The Space of Silence

Society has a stigma embodied by the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s easier to see bruises than the mental scars emotional abuse leaves behind. Those suffering are often forced into silence and disconnected from the world; they feel completely alone.

My work utilizes portraiture to explore past experiences of suffering in emotionally abusive relationships. I sought out other individuals who were willing to share their own experiences and participate in creating these portraits. Using the visual elements of room sets, symbolism in decorations, and composition, I’m aiming to create a physical representation of the invisible damage that is often overlooked and dismissed. Printing inkjet on vellum with colored silver leaf gives the work a tactile quality and adds to the photograph itself being a physical object.

Each person’s story has helped me accept my own experiences with emotional abuse and develop a sense of validity for my past that still affects me today. My true growth as a person came when I moved 800 miles away to a new city by myself. The strength, confidence, and friendship I found while there was more powerful than the pain I had been living with. My wish is for every viewer who has faced an abusive situation to feel that a similar sense of resolve is possible and to have the personal strength to speak about their stories, without being minimized or disregarded by society.

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