Put up in ACSU last week, “Aria Rising” is dedicated to victims of sexual assault.
Last Monday, an interactive art exhibit titled “Aria Rising” was installed in the center of the Allen Chapman Student Union. The sculpture captures viewers at first glance through its large stature and striking visuals. It stands on a platform with information on posters about its creation and intent on both sides. “Aria Rising” aims to use interactive art to raise awareness and bolster support for survivors of sexual assault within the TU community.
Standing tall on a platform in the middle of the student union, “Aria” is a human-sized sculpture decked in a floor-length dress and flanked on both sides with prickly wings made of steel blinds. Aria’s white dress, constructed intricately with delicate details on the bodice, matched her sweeping wings to make her feel almost like a guardian angel.
The materials that compose Aria add to her meaning. Aria began as a broken mannequin but was repurposed into an art exhibit made entirely of recycled materials. The history behind the Aria’s origin is representative of how survivors of sexual assault often feel broken by their attackers. By reusing materials that others discarded and repurposing them into a constructive work of art, “Aria Rising” stands as a symbol of strength and perseverance after trauma.
Furthermore, the imagery of Aria as an angel shows the power of raising awareness about sexual violence. Aria herself becomes a guardian angel to others by becoming a voice and resource for them.
But “Aria Rising” does not only include Aria herself. In fact, much of her meaning and success is dependent on community interaction. Multicolored paper is available to the right of the sculpture for students to write messages of hope and support to survivors, as the informational poster explains. The notes are then rolled up and placed inside Aria’s dress, which is constructed almost entirely out of pill bottles, cups and other containers. Through viewer interaction, Aria’s splendor grows as pops of color and emotional support are integrated into the decorations of the dress. Lambda Chi Alpha member Mark Rieke clarified the message: “After installations, the notes are collected and used to help survivors gain hope in at least some small part.” The message is clear: community support is a pivotal step in the healing process.
The installation of “Aria Rising” was co-sponsored by TU’s Student Alliance for Violence Education (SAVE) and Lambda Chi Alpha. It was originally created by Divinemoira Studio in collaboration with The Angel Band Project. Divinemoira Studio is an organization that intends to use the arts to inspire and incite hope in others, as well as to improve the communities around them.
The Angel Band Project is a non-profit organization that most notably uses music as therapy for survivors of sexual assault, and raises public awareness of sexual violence through public music events, speaking events and collaborative works with other organizations, such as their collaboration with Divinemoira Studio for “Aria Rising.”
“Aria Rising” displays the shared beliefs of both Divinemoira Studio and the Angel Band Project. It uses a creative medium to engage the audience with the sobering topic of sexual violence and recovery. Through its interactive elements, it pulls forth a sense of connection and compassion.
“Aria Rising” strengthens our community by addressing sexual assault, providing resources for survivors, increasing our awareness of and bolstering our support for one another. But it reaches even farther than that.
Concluding his statement on the piece, Rieke said, “Specifically to TU, I think we’re at a really interesting time as a community where the conversation about sexual assault has really opened up. Clancy has been doing a great job in making TU a place where survivors feel they can speak up. Hosting ‘Aria Rising’ in ACAC is a stark visual reminder to students that the conversation is still going on.”
One of the most powerful aspects of “Aria Rising” is that it is a traveling exhibit. Not only will it be displayed in the student union and engage our students, but it has done the same in other universities, high schools, theatres and more.
Aria strengthens our community locally, as well as connecting us to other communities outside TU. Just as “Aria Rising” can cause us to feel linked to each other through our shared compassion and support for survivors of sexual assault on our campus, the piece allows us to feel connected to other communities and survivors across the United States in the same way.
“Aria Rising” is an exhibit free and open to students from now until April 13.