"My Body Will Not Be Silenced"
My own freedom began back in 2018 with my debut series “Rebuild” which told the story of my own sexual assault as well as how I slowly began to find my voice again, including my own words: “I believe my body she has never lied.”
Silence Chapel is a large scale mixed media art installation piece featuring digital illustration printed vinyl applied an upcycled window, lit from behind with LED lights to mimic the look of stained glass. Silence Chapel is the long-awaited follow up to my Rebuild series, incorporating religious imagery and the feeling of being “in church” juxtaposed with words “my body will not be silenced.”
I found my voice when I decided to tell the truth about my sexual assault. In the process, I uncovered the true condition of not only my blood family but my spiritual family who were more concerned about my silence than my healing. I am joined by many survivors of religious abuse who have been told to never speak of their experiences for fear of “leading others astray.” Silence Chapel espouses this tradition and paves a way for a new awakening of survivors to Rebuild their lives, tell their stories, and find their freedom.
Silence Chapel started as a crazy idea in my head to create a large format graphic and typography focused stained glass piece. I had no idea how I was going to accomplish the execution, but I started looking for the perfect window. One day, I was at my local ReStore and found a large arched window leftover from a building project. I was able to get a good deal on the window and I crammed it into my car and excitedly drove home.
From there, I started sketching out some motifs for the piece and working to find phrasing that fit what I was going for. Building off of the momentum from my 2018 debut series Rebuild, I started to think more about how my relationship with my family and my church community shifted after my sexual assault. When the ashes settled, I found that I was left to fend for myself, those who told me that god would never leave me actually deserted me.
For the pattern of the stained glass repeated on the top and bottom of the typography, I pulled some inspiration from a 2018 trip I took to Italy, namely this marble altar in Chiesa San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.
I wanted to feature a motif of an angelic figure but wanted a fat body like mine to be featured and immortalized in the piece. My "fat goddess" motif was born. Since Silence Chapel debuted, I've created some separate pieces just focusing on the fat goddess motif which have been widely loved.
After sketching out the whole piece, I decided the best way to execute the piece was to have it printed at size on semi-transparent vinyl and hand apply it to the window, trim down the vinyl and then light the piece from behind. This was not an easy or quick process, but was so worth it.
I attached 2 huge shop lights to the sides of the back of the window and shielded the light from escaping from the edges with a black curtain.
Silence Chapel debuted in April 2021 at the AVA gallery in downtown Chattanooga. I spent the day before the show setting up my piece in the gallery.