Weekender

How can art help sexual abuse survivors? Exhibit lets them tell their stories

An art exhibit featuring the drawings, sculptures, paintings and other artwork of sexual abuse and assault survivors will be on display this weekend as part of the Oasis Conference at the State College Alliance Church.
An art exhibit featuring the drawings, sculptures, paintings and other artwork of sexual abuse and assault survivors will be on display this weekend as part of the Oasis Conference at the State College Alliance Church. Photo provided

An art exhibit featuring the drawings, sculptures, paintings and other artwork of sexual abuse and assault survivors will be on display this weekend, as part of the Oasis Conference at the State College Alliance Church.

While registration for the conference is necessary, the “Healing Trauma Through the Arts” exhibit is free and open to the public.

Co-organizer Karen Ciccarone said this idea came from a conference she attended last year in Ohio. The survivors whose art who was on display in an exhibit there agreed to bring their artwork to State College this year for the Oasis Conference.

“The exhibit helps survivors feel like they’re not alone — people are able to connect to the trauma and feel understood and validated,” Ciccarone said.

Vicky Didato, a State College native and Penn State graduate who is now the director of the Child Sexual Abuse Institute of Ohio, will be the featured speaker at this year’s conference. She will be joined by musician Steve Siler.

“Traditional talk therapy tends to only use the left side of the brain, which can have the potential to drive the trauma deeper since trauma storage is located on the right side,” Didato said, “talking is important, but a survivor can’t access the trauma just by narrating the story — this uses data rather than emotion.”

Didato said she thinks the combination of the art display and the musical performances by Siler will help survivors feel their trauma.

“The conference last year was one of the best on trauma in large part because of the combination of the foundation with the lecture, the education with survivor stories, Steve’s song to accompany each story and the artwork,” Didato said.

Along with the art exhibit, the conference will feature an interactive addition which will allow participants to create artwork that shows their own story. Artistic experience is no required, and all pieces are kept anonymous.

Registration for the Oasis Conference is open until Friday morning of Nov. 16. For more information, visit www.scalliancechurch.com/event-pages/oasis.

If you go

What: “Healing Trauma Through the Arts”

When: 6-9 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

Where: State College Alliance Church, 1221 W. Whitehall Road, State College

Info: www.scalliancechurch.com/event-pages/oasis.

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