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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

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Shutter the Silence Photography Project Kick-Off Event 9 February

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                A kick-off event for Shutter the Silence, a gallery of photographs capturing the stories of survivors of sexual assault and their allies, will be held Saturday 9 February from 5 - 10 pm at Milwaukee's Art Bar.

                The exhibit , showcasing efforts from a project that began last August by local photographer Leanna Vannarom, includes an arrangement of 100 8 x 10 color images of participants who were photographed holding signs with a revictimizing message from either their perpetrator, friends, family, law enforcement
officials, or society.  Those who volunteered to take part are all shapes and sizes and from all walks of
life.  It seems that no part of society is immune to this variety of violence, and Vannaroom wanted to reach out and
make a statement about it to facilitate the healing process.  With this project, she  "hopes to make a difference by beginning to wipe away the shame and silence our society has cast upon sexual violence," she says.    

                "After struggling with my rape for several years, I decided to use what I know and love (my art) as an outlet for my own personal healing.  I decided to hold a photo shoot and give others the opportunity to express themselves and break their silence through art.  I honestly didn't think I'd have such a huge turnout," says Vannarom.    

                Participating in Shutter the Silence allows survivors to break their silence and use their voices through an expression of art. "My hope is that it will be one more way for survivors to continue their healing journeys," says Vannarom.  Expressing oneself is a critical step in the journey away from "victim" and towards "survivor". 

                "The feedback I've received from both participants and viewers of the project has been truly touching.  I've gotten e-mails and facebook messages thanking me for creating this project and the opportunity to allow them to participate and break their silence," reports Vannarom.  The tragedy is that these incidents have
occurred, but the support received from the community is heartening.  "I was raped 20 yeas ago.  There was so much shame then, and their still is now.  Your projeject allowed me to open up about my assault and the more I talk about it now, the more it frees me.  Thank you for creating this amazing project and allowing me to break my own silence," was a message she received, via e-mail, from one viewer.  

                Starting off the night is a THRIVE! Milwaukee Against Sexual Violence meeting from 5 to 6 p.m. which is being held to facilitate activism, brainstorming, and empowerment.  This meeting is open to survivors of sexual assault and their allies, and there is no age requirement as alcohol will not be available.  Starting at 5pm, all attendees must be 21 or accompanied by an adult.  There is no cover charge for either event, but donations are welcome.  Art Bar is located at 722
East Burleigh Street .  

                 For more information on the project, please go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shutter-the-Silence

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