Art Therapy and Open Mic Night Spreads Awareness of Sexual Harm

in Bryn Mawr/News by

By JULIA HABLAK, Staff Writer

Thursday nights in Arnecliffe studio are havens for students seeking a creative outlet. Sponsored by the Bryn Mawr Art Club, these evenings typically feature a specific project, such as making pet rocks or marbling paper with shaving cream. On Nov. 10, however, Art Club partnered with Students Against Sexual Harm (SASH) to host something a little different – an art therapy session.

SASH leaders co-hosted the event, entitled “SASH Speak Out!”, with Art Club executive board member Ise Oberlander (BMC ’21).

“SASH Speak Out!” included an open mic where students could share their experiences of sexual harm through a variety of art forms. Performances included various written works of poetry and short stories.

The content was heavily emotional, and students were encouraged to take breaks as needed. Snacks and refreshments were provided. Students could also join Oberlander at the other side of the room for art therapy.

Oberlander prompted students to outline their hands on a piece of paper and fill in one hand with “where I’ve been” and the other with “where I’m going.” Alternatively, students could draw their safe space, or they could illustrate freely whatever idea came to mind. Many students choose to outline their hands, each yielding unique results.

“SASH Speak Out!” provided a welcoming space for students to express their emotions among supportive peers. Although the room was often tense because of the intimacy of the stories being shared, all participants were mindful of each other and shared applause, hugs, and encouragement. The event lasted late into the night. 

The event was designed to introduce and implement a space for expressive dialogue about sexual harm. Oberlander believes the event was a success, and she expressed interest in having the Art Club partner with SASH again next year.

SASH is a collective of Bryn Mawr students striving to provide support on campus to victims of sexual harm. Members are not mandated reporters and work independently of Bryn Mawr administrators. People who have experienced sexual harm are encouraged to reach out to SASH for individual support, whether in need of someone to talk to or to help think through strategies regarding a situation.

SASH can be contacted via phone, email, or Facebook message. For contact information please visit the club’s website.

Photo Credit: Abby Webster

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