By Reanae McNeal
The exhibit is dedicated to Girl X a nine year old African-American girl who was raped, beaten, forced to drink gasoline, and had roach spray put in her mouth. She was left for dead in the stairwell of Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago, Illinois but she SURVIVED. It is also dedicated to Marquita a nineteen year old American Indian woman who was raped, beaten, and murdered in an abandoned house on Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.
The Weeping Blood Art Exhibit deals with violence against girls and women from all over the world. Reanae McNeal crosses race, class, age, religion, nationality, culture, sexual orientation, and disability as she gives us an inclusive view of the human rights violations of girls and women worldwide. Each woman tells her story through her own unique and incredible voice. These stories are put on 12 table top ironing boards that Reanae created wonderful art pieces around with the assistance of diverse women. In this exhibit Reanae gives us a glimpse into domestic violence, rape/sexual assault, sexual abuse, and state violence as she recognizes the simultaneous oppression that the majority of women face on a national and global level. This exhibit is a powerful interactive tool and can be set up in any space. You can be as creative as you want to be in the set up. The exhibit was made to be accessible. The ironing boards are set on table tops that should have white sheets of paper as the table cloth. Colorful pens and markers should be placed beside each piece for those who go through the exhibit to write their thoughts and feelings about violence against women, their own stories, and words of empowerment or drawings. The object of the exhibit is to bring out the creativity, thoughts, feelings, and inspiration of the community that it is in. The exhibit serves as a catalyst to awareness and healing as those who come to the exhibit create their own mural around the pieces. It is very powerful and creates thought-provoking discussions and healing. Reanae has used ironing boards as her artistic canvas because of the historical fact of ironing being traditionally woman's work in the United States. The ironing boards become monuments to women taking back their power through telling their stories. These ironing boards can be put up anywhere and serve as a powerful educational and awareness tool. Breaking the silence takes on another diverse and creative dimension through this art exhibit.
The Hands That Changed My Life
Ironically I used to be one of those people who wondered how anyone could stay with someone who was abusing them. How funny that I had become that person. I soon realized that the abuse was never really over, the nightmares, the sounds, the smells, that would send a wave of fear coursing throughout my body. Everyday is a process you never really forget. Now I look around at every person and wonder what story is behind their life.
Excerpt from "The Hands That Changed My Life" story. She was a teenager at the time this was written.
In My Father's House
I survived my father's house but put myself into another abusive situation as soon as I was free. I killed that man when I was 17 and have been incarcerated from age 17-31. Since being in prison, I obtained a grant to provide incest therapy for 12 other women and myself. Although I am not "free" I am FREE. I am strong and powerful for myself and others. I share my story and strength so that other women will not be lost or destroyed like my mother was.
Excerpt from Yvette's story.The picture in the exhibit is the only picture that Yvette has of her as a baby and her mother.
The War On Women and Children
I have been subjected to four evaluations of my home. There were no evaluations done of any of my ex-husband's residences. My partner has been subjected to scrutiny numerous occasions. My ex-husband's girlfriends and now, new wife have never been interviewed.
The GAL said I had no evidence. Children's hospital refused to see us. Psychiatrists said, 'You must protect your children' but refused to see the child to evaluate her. They had no referrals or suggestions. When I spoke my concern in the group of women whose young children had sexually transmitted diseases, they looked at me in a cold bizarre silence, and told me I was not appropriate for the group. Evidence. No Evidence.
Is A Girl-Child Ever Safe?
While taking a bath one evening the male caretaker, of whose name I cannot remember, came into the bathroom while I was bathing. I remember him asking his daughter to go, and he was going to help me out of the tub. When he asked me to get out of the tub he told me to lie down so he could dry off. I still remember to this day how scared I was when he touched my vagina with his mouth, and then told me to touch his penis with my mouth. I can still smell the odor of his body, and it scared me so but on the other hand I guess this was normal. My dad (Walter) had brought me to this house so it must be a safe place?
We Wear The Masks
When I was a Little girl my mother had a boyfriend named Armarado. He was very nice to us after a while my mother would leave him to take care of me while she went to work and then he started to touch me. He told me if I were to tell he would make sure he would hurt my mom and that it was ok for him to do what he did, all daddy's do it to their daughters. It is the only way we could be a family.
Excerpt from a woman's story who is currently in prison
The extended family and community did not support Neema's right to live free of violence. Even when there was extreme violence against her, no one stood up for her. Is that our culture? To look the other way when women are suffering abuse? Where does this culture of silence stem from, our religion? Our traditional way of life? Culture is dynamic it can change---are we courageous to start examining our traditions and cultures?
Excerpt from a story of an East African Woman named Neema from Tanzania
Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls In Nepal
Seema had left the poverty of her home village to work in Kathmandu. She was barely twelve when a smooth-talking flesh trader lured her to Bombay with talk of a better job. She hoped to become a film star. Instead she was sold into a brothel.
Excerpt from Helen Brown's report of "The Rape of 100,000 Girls"
Barbie Doll Conspiracy
What happens when we find out that most women do not, will not, can not fit into the image of Barbie?
What happens when we find out her world is a fairy tale?
No matter how long and blond her hair is, no matter how thin her waist, no matter how big her breasts are, no matter how little her feet, no matter how white her skin, no matter how beautiful her dresses, no matter how perfect her make-up, no matter how big her smile, that even she and the women made in her image can be raped, beaten, sexually abused, by someone they know.
Excerpt from the Writing To Our Bodies Series.