This idea was first born because we were thinking about how isolating trauma is. How it’s a taboo topic, and how as a culture we isolate even further those who are suffering – those who are trapped, those who have succumbed, and those who have survived. The greatest lie our culture tells us about this sort of suffering is two-part – first, that such suffering is to be kept to oneself. That agony is a private battle. Second, it tells us through such continued isolation that our trauma is out of place – that it is unusual, and that we are in every sense of the word, alone.
What a lie.
So many of us have lived, and are living, through horrific circumstances with courage we cannot begin to describe. We have lived through illness, through unimaginable pain, through loss in death. Through abuse of many kinds. Through depression, self harm, and through mental illness. Through the shattering of relationships and family. Through as many struggles as there are humans to struggle.
We’ve also been stricken at the culture that says that women must compete with one another. That to be successful means to step on those with whom we compete. That for a woman in authority to admit her flaws, to ask for help – is to be weak. That there is still this pervasive idea that a strong woman cannot also be delicate and feminine. That women of faith struggle to admit their trauma, doubt, and depression because they are so afraid that their faith will be called into question. That women judge each other on basis of pain, as though it is a thing that could be ranked.
We should be each other’s strongest supporters. We should stand for and with each other, simply because we have walked the same steps, and breathed the same air. Because to be human is to be precious, and valuable, and worthy of love, compassion, and respect.
This project is a marriage of these two passions. We want to gather a collection of women from diverse background – in age, faith, ethnicity, and walk of life – to speak hope and encouragement to one another. We are asking female writers and artists to create works on the topic of how they have found hope in the midst of despair – in any number of hard and painful circumstances, and then we want to put those works up here in an online exhibit, free to view, as a beacon. We want to boldly and determinedly proclaim that no matter who you are, where you came from, or what you are suffering, you are not alone, and you can carry on – that there is hope again, even from the reaches of the unimaginable. We have incredible stories to share, as unique and precious as each of us, and we should feel free to share them, as acknowledgement of what we’ve endured, as encouragement to those in the midst of pain, and as a defiant blow to the cultural lie that tells us that we are permitted neither to suffer nor to share hope.
Here’s how it works. If you’re a writer, write something. If you’re an artist, make something. Consider what you have walked through, and how you have found hope and courage to carry on despite it, and create from there.
We do want to emphasize that while this project will touch on the hurt and trauma that we have experienced, it will do so with the focus not on the agony, but on the triumph. We want this gallery to overwhelmingly proclaim to any of its viewers that 1) there is hope to carry on, there is a way to move forward after devastation, they can make it – and 2) they are not alone. The prompt is intentionally loose, as our experiences are diverse. Further guidelines are below, but if you have questions feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk.
We're overwhelmed by the support and excitement this project has already generated. It is close to our hearts, and we're so grateful for everyone who has encouraged it, and already pledged their submission. We believe that this project will impact lives, and we're so honored to be a part of such a wonderful community of women. You are all inspiring.
Feel free to share this with female artists and writers you believe would be a good fit. We are asking for thoughtful, careful consideration as you submit, and reserve the right to curate this gallery as described in the submission guidelines, so that it accurately achieves the vision described.
Please feel free to contact us with any further questions or project communication, and we will stay in touch.
Thank you all so much!
Jess and Alyssa