This residency started with an assignment: Make a portrait with and about a young girl. On the first day of this residency five very shy, underprivileged girls aged 11-15 joined the artists-in-residence for a day of art activities that ended with the portrait assignment.
It was only the next day that the artists-in-residence were told that the girls they were working with were all survivors of sexual assault. Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ)—with whom Art for Change Foundation partnered for this residency—has been working closely with each of the girls to secure effective criminal and restorative justice. That first day, followed by hearing the harrowing stories of rape & abuse, learning about the processes of justice and restoration CSJ champions, and the conversations that unfolded over the next three weeks, formed the basis for the residency theme ‘The Beauty of Who I Am.’ Yet it was that opening to the residency, reconciling the knowledge of the second day with the lives of the first day that launched the artists into three weeks of discussion and creativity around the theme: ‘The Beauty of Who I am.’
Rather than responding directly to the issue of child sexual abuse our and CSJ’s aim was for the artist, and their art, to ask the bigger questions: What is justice? What is restoration? What is beauty? What is the value of a human life? Ultimately, what does it mean to be human.