By: Anand Balaji
MSJ Peer Resource has been exploring a variety of unique ways to get the word out about teen dating violence. This year they have started a free t-shirt campaign, a charity fashion show, and now, an art exhibition. On February 21st, Peer Resource unveiled its Stronger Than You Think Art Gallery at Bay St. Coffee Café. The gallery features over 20 pieces of original artwork created by MSJ students. The goal of the event isn’t to sell the art but to create awareness for the cause against teen relationship violence.
The event has taken weeks of planning and involved the cooperation of a few different organizations. The Stronger Than You Think campaign (StrongerTYT) is the result of collaboration between MSJ’s Peer Resource and the local foundation, Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE). Sophomore Raquel Crites, Junior Samiha Alam and SAVE representative Erin Daly were the chief organizers for the event.
The gallery is comprised of various paintings and drawings created entirely by MSJ artists. There is a definite contrast among the pieces on display; some pictures depict a bright and lively environment, like the painting of a couple holding hands on a hill, while others are darker, like the sketch that depicts an octopus strangling different objects in its grasp. When asked about the theme for the artwork, Navarro said, “All we asked the artists for was artwork about love. We tried to keep it intentionally broad so they could depict love in any way they wanted.”
The opening event garnered a sizeable crowd of roughly 25 to 30 people. While many of the spectators were Peer Resource members and their parents, bystanders did stop by to check out the artwork, including an off-duty police officer and an MSJ alumnus from the 1980s. The goal of the event, however, is not to sell the artwork but to start a discussion. Alam said that for her, the aim of the event is to “…bring the community together and have the art evoke an emotional response from the people that see it”. There is also a ballot box for people to vote for their favorite piece of artwork. Once the gallery closes, the art will be returned to the artists and the artists who receive the most votes will get cash prizes.
The SAVE campaign played a big part in organizing this event and set up a booth next to the gallery where interested people can pick up free pens, brochures, and DVDs about the movement to end domestic abuse. When SAVE representative Erin Daly was asked what she hoped the public would get out of this event, she said, “I hope this gallery can raise awareness about how large a problem unhealthy relationships really are. There is always room for more education and more discussion and hopefully this gallery can provide that.” Based on the large turnout and interest during opening night, it seems that goal is being accomplished. The gallery closes on March 10th and prizewinners will be announced shortly after so there is still time to stop by and check out some very impressive artwork.
Photos: Staff Writer Anand Balaji