Claire Gustafson, Printmaking
My work is an attempt to explore emotions associated with recovering from trauma regarding rape and sexual assault. After the #MeToo movement, there has been a rise in women sharing their experiences. My goal is to help the viewer grasp a deeper understanding of the emotional impact women face as a result of rape and sexual assault.
The motif of water comes from my interest in the sublime and power of nature. Water encompasses this idea because of its ability to represent a variety of emotions. Using water to depict the duality between calm and intense emotions, I can incorporate it as a substitution for feelings a person experiences as a result of rape and sexual assault. Through the imagery of waves, ripples, and stillness, I am communicating the feelings of depression, numbness, a disintegrated sense of self, and a hope of recovery. While dealing with personal trauma, victims will often dissociate from their emotions. By branching off the imagery of hyper realistic woodcuts by artist Vija Clemins, I created my own simplified version of resting water to represent white noise and numbness, similar to the feeling of dissociating from one's self.
I use bedroom furniture to highlight how more than half of victims are raped by either an intimate partner or someone they knew. Using bedroom furniture, I can discuss that sometimes these awful situations happen in a place that we consider to be a safe haven: a bedroom. When asked to think about a bed, it's common to associate it with sleep, softness, or relaxation. But after a situation like rape and sexual assault takes place in these spaces, that connotation becomes distorted into discomfort, restlessness, and a loss of safety.
By working with a combination of found objects and prints, I want to depict the emotions and recovery associated with the aftermath of trauma. Unfortunately, a large portion of the demographic that deals with this are college-age women. As I wrap up my last year at university, I want to bring awareness to these emotions and normalize working through traumatic experiences.