Arts Education graduate student tackles violence against women with interactive map

Lauren Stetz, a doctoral candidate in arts education with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, has created an interactive online map that features artists from around the world and the artworks they’ve created in response to violence against women.

Using artwork in a variety of mediums and interviews conducted over Zoom with 24 different artists from around the world, Stetz created the interactive map to examine the relationships between artists’ work as well as the cultural nuances of violence in different places.

“What I’m really trying to do in my card is bring out the unique experiences of the artists,” Stetz said. “While the artists address common themes in dealing with violence against women, they do so by highlighting their diverse positions based on individual identities, geographic location, cultures and political histories.”

Violence against women includes anyone who identifies as a woman and consists of physical, mental or emotional violence, as well as threats of violence or denial of rights or freedoms.

Conceptualized by Stetz in 2018, the map reveals 10 different themes such as shame and victim blaming, vulnerability and empowerment, which help build connections between artists. As users click on different points on the map, they can view artists’ work, read their stories, and also find links to their websites and social media accounts.

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, the map features artist-activists, some of whom are survivors of violence against women. While some of the artwork shown had a local influence, others had larger-scale impacts, such as governmental changes, according to Stetz.

“A lot of times when we think of art in terms of trauma, we think of artists creating works for healing, and that’s something a lot of these artists do,” Stetz said. “However, what really inspired me with the #MeToo movement was that I saw that artists were not just creating work for healing, but working with the aim of inspiring and producing change. social.”

The goal of the map, according to Stetz, is to develop a space where artists can connect with other artists to build coalition, foster transnational conversations, and develop educational materials to address violence against women. women. Because violence against women is such a difficult subject for creating art, Stetz said many artists don’t realize how many others are creating this type of work and she hopes the map can help bring them together.

In December 2021, the map gained international attention when Stetz was featured on “Behind the Art Scene” by internationally acclaimed Pakistani artist and curator Mehreen Hashmi, which is a YouTube series focusing on Hashmi’s curatorial projects. , his artistic works and his interviews with established and emerging artists.

The two knew each other through Stetz’s pilot study before his thesis work and because of that relationship, Stetz said it was easy for them to connect. Ewa Grochowska, an artist featured on Stetz’s card, was also featured on an episode of Hashmi’s show.

As an art educator who has taught in schools, colleges and universities from K-12, Stetz hopes the online map can address the systemic nature of violence against women by providing educational materials to encourage artistic activism and facilitate a better understanding of the problem.

“Violence against women is not necessarily something that is addressed directly in schools, despite the prevalence of violence in students’ home environments,” Stetz said. “I think artwork is a powerful way to explore this subject.”

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