Here’s a secret: the end is always the best part.

Art, Uncategorized

Photos by Sam Troilo

unnamed (10)

unnamed (11)

unnamed (12)

unnamed (13)

unnamed (14)

Check out more of Sam’s work on her website.

Advertisements

Harsh Noise: A Conversation with GRUTESK

Art, music, Uncategorized

Interview by: Jess Petrylak

Untitled-2

“Harsh Noise” is a musical style that is entirely characterized by static used in an expressive state, and often times challenges what is thought to be conventional in terms of musical practices. Sucker Magazine interviewed GRUTESK, a rising star in the genre of harsh noise who’s based in a quaint town in Upstate New York.

SUCKER: Who is GRUTESK?

GRUTESK: Grutesk is a harsh noise alias I use to let out some steam and just to create.

SUCKER: Not an entirely expanded upon genre, what sparked your interest in harsh noise?

GRUTESK: I honestly can’t pinpoint what exactly sparked my interest, but I’ve always been interested in more experimental music. I always wanted to be different with my music taste while growing up. When everyone was listening to pop music I was listening to more independent music. I could say that probably the band/group to get me into the genre would be a rap group by the name Clipping. If harsh noise interests you, you should check them out

SUCKER: What software do you use to create your music?

GRUTESK: Currently I’m using FL Studios to make this, but I want to expand my horizons and go with the traditional setup for noise music, which is with a mixer, and some guitar pedals.

SUCKER: Do you consider GRUTESK sort of an alter ego comparative to your natural self?

GRUTESK: I think I would, I would say I’m more calm and collective then Grutesk would be, I’d best say that Grutesk is more expressive of his emotions and does not take shit from anyone, a little on the chaotic side of things though.

SUCKER: How does the emotion of anger play its role within your music? Do any other emotions come out through this medium?

GRUTESK: I’d say if it hasn’t shown in the song titles of my latest EP “Violence”, it’d be my latest experimentation with vocals in some tracks and also the noise itself gives off an angry tone or feeling.

SUCKER: What are some responses you’ve gotten on your music? Good, bad?

GRUTESK: I’ve either have gotten “Oh that’s interesting” which usually means “This is terrible” or, (from people in the noise community) “This is some good stuff man keep it up.” I take anything as a compliment; I realize this genre isn’t for everyone it even took me a while before I was fully interested in it.

SUCKER: Do you believe truly anyone can be an artist (music, art, writing, etc)?

GRUTESK: I believe you if work hard at something you love, and you are putting in the effort then you can become an artist. If you go into anything either looking for money or trying to get famous thinking “oh this is so easy hahaha” you aren’t really going to get very far.

SUCKER: What would be on GRUTESK’s personal playlist?

GRUTESK: He would definitely have just a lot of variety of noise music, and extreme music.

SUCKER: You also craft your own album art, what are the benefits of being a completely independent artist that transcends many different creative mediums?

GRUTESK: I think that because I have somewhat of an idea with what looks good with art, it plays a big role into both noise and my digital art. I believe with each album cover it portrays the emotion within each album.

SUCKER: Does your creative process for visual art and music differ in any way?

GRUTESK: With my digital art I try to draw cute cartoon women and fandom related things as well, generally like a non impacting emotion with it. Grutesk is a way I can express myself when I get angry, upset, whatever. I mean, I have created something from emotions into my digital art, but for the most part I don’t, which I think needs to change.

SUCKER: Have you done any live shows, and if not would you consider?

GRUTESK: I haven’t yet, but I would love to! I have some crazy ideas of what to do for some live events which I would love to share with everyone.

SUCKER: What was the definitive moment that lead to you to create music?

GRUTESK: After I saw a performance at the Bundy Museum in Binghamton, I forgot the guy’s name or his groups name, but it was really interesting and it just went on from there.

SUCKER: In a genre that has a very specific sound, how do you separate yourself from the rest of the harsh noise scene?

GRUTESK: I think that with my vocals I add on tracks it definitely separates me from the others.

154

SUCKER: What influences your sound, other than other music/musical artists?

GRUTESK: Some of the current events or horror themed things really inspires me with Grutesk, I want to do something a little different someday where I incorporate spoken word, poetry, or whatever with harsh noise. I also would love to collab with anyone if they are interested, just write to me via email or on soundcloud or bandcamp.

SUCKER: What is some sound advice you have gotten as far as any creative endeavors?

GRUTESK: I have been just told to practice, experiment, and to keep trying new things.

SUCKER: Where can we follow you, listen/buy your music?

GRUTESK: You can follow grutesk on soundcloud (where I post tracks, previews, and albums) and my bandcamp.

I would also like to shout out some really cool people in the noise scene I’d recommend anyone to check out : Writhe (Ruben), he has some intense tracks and he’s just an awesome friendpaper skin. (Taylor), he’s more power electronics but has awesome live shows and music, he’s who inspired me to add vocals to some of my own tracks. 

 

 

hope this time

Art, poetry, talk, Uncategorized, Words

Poem by Alyssa Faye Campbell

Art by Jessie Petrylak

blm

 

in the face of adversity the load becomes

heavy – as we strive towards so much

more. we arrived with words as keys,

discovering our strength from their

energy – “Black Lives Matter.”

forsaken chants – no remedy,

another hashtag. awaiting

brighter days; and there

will be.

even in

the dark

we grow – in

the

dark

we glow.

so much pain –

still, there’s always hope.

where is heaven for a

Black

angel –

when

will

all

Lives

really

Matter

 

Emma Magenta: Artist of the Month – July 2016

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

Interview by Jess Petrylak

12919737_1299901146691962_360356998920266501_n

Emma Magenta

Who is Emma Magenta?

I am an artist, author and now I’m heading into film making.

In your TEDx talk, you stated that with art and writing you attempt to map the terrain of the collective emotional landscape, and describe yourself as as a cartographer of the heart. What does this mean in terms of your artistic process?

I guess through my process of these two mediums, writing and drawing, I undertake my mission to base jump into my own darkness, collective unconscious and all matters to do with inner world to understand the invisible forces at play in us all. I imagine myself sometimes as a kind of Indiana Jones undertaking missions to find the treasures hidden are I’ve surpassed the challenges facing me as I look at at the unlovable, the painful and the destructive aspects in myself. I go to these places and my drawings and writings are landmarks i leave behind as possible help for those making the same journey. My process is basically this to help myself and maybe create something meaningful.

21181_1058772084138204_503134599392412039_n-2

Emma Magenta

What is your first memory with art?

It was seeing my mum’s sketchbook in our foreboding floor to ceiling library as a kid. It blew me away that she had this secret talent, she was an exhibiting ceramicist, so I traveled a lot as a kid for her shows. Drawing was always something I always did and didn’t think about it except that it gave me freedom and pleasure to do so. I always poured over comic books and the tipped-in plates in rare books in my father’s library. I guess my first experience of drawing being “art” was when I spent my lunchtimes at school in the library and read every book there was on Modern Art and I felt that these artists were my people, I felt for the first time, understood. I never thought I wasn’t an artist until after I finished art school and saw how the contemporary art scene was the opposite of creativity and it killed my mojo.

10985277_1088903877791691_4377661177601234026_n

Emma Magenta

 

When visually portraying an emotion, what are some indicators you utilize, other than text, that gets your message across? Are there any recurring symbols?

I have my own symbolic language that was born out of keeping my visual language as simple as possible while conveying as much as I could. I used a lot of math signs such as equations, plus and minus symbols to convey positive and negative emotions, division symbol for feeling divided or confused. The human body for me is the ultimate tool for me to convey emotion and body parts doing certain things to express what is happening internally, such as the hair taking on a life force of it’s own. The hair for me is about thoughts that we have not surrendered thought patterns, contained ideas and cosmic consciousness at it’s best. Cutting hair is often used to release such thought history and growing it long is nostalgia in a way. Feet for me are our unconscious steps and I often use bird feet to show fragility and not being grounded. Blood tears is about ancestral pattern release and may appear negative but is actually the essential process of transforming one’s own darkness. Animals as well are used to convey the symbolic meaning of the animal such as foxes being sneaky, wolves are the instinctive part of the masculine, birds are the higher aspects of the spiritual dimensions of the human, cats are intuition and dogs are loyalty. Nature is always for me the source of all metaphoric glory, I derive all my inspiration from nature.

12418063_1284055391609871_7444939235448204453_n

Emma Magenta

 

Are there any emotions that are too hard to portray? Too easy?

The works that people respond to the most are my very hopeful pieces which is natural, people don’t want to be looking all the time at the darkness. I began to introduce the darker side into my work, because that was what I was experiencing and I make my work to understand myself, not to appeal to an audience. A lot of what I have been doing of late is confronting for some people who have enjoyed my more Anne of Green Gables era of drawing, but that is the price i have to pay for being authentically where i am at. Having said that, the work that I am doing of late is opening me up to a new audience who are prepared to accept that life is not just a feel good mantra on a Facebook meme. I don’t struggle to draw the darkness, of late I am finding it harder to draw the whimsical, the über hopeful, but I can only be true to where I am at if I want to call myself an artist.

 

Your work is composed of simple but confident lines, and primary colors. How do these add to your message?

I think the style is actually where the artistry resides and also is not separate from the message. Most people look at it and think a child could do that and I say thank you. It is not easy to draw unencumbered by years of adulthood should’s and should not’s. Some people view my work through a very conservative lens of “art should look like this, but not that” I think the simplicity shocks people sometimes and they miss the point. The point is that the simplicity is a juxtaposition of the deeper message. I am merging the best parts of the child and adult into the one moment, such as the innocence, playfulness, emotional honesty of the child and the wisdom, experience and insight of being an adult.

12495262_1270350016313742_4635194884607740225_n

Emma Magenta

 

What other visual artists do you look to for inspiration?

Unfortunately Frida Kahlo has been hijacked by Art Capitalism and turned into a fridge magnet and shopping bag, but i have loved her since i was 15. Her independence, politics, style and honesty. I love Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Louise Bourgious, Bill Viola, but to be honest, I have stopped looking at other artist’s work for inspiration as i see them more with appreciation. I derive all my inspiration from nature, observing human behaviour, books, conversations and meditation.

12289650_10153712835071774_4239768963519941694_n

Emma Magenta

 

During what part of the artistic process do you feel most yourself?

Drawing for me is when I come in to the true essence of myself. It is when the intellect is dissolved and the heart is in control. Writing is more of a skin shedding process like I’m trying to exorcise demons. The best part of me emerges when the space between the intellect and intuition merges and I am no longer myself, but everything. That is when I do my best work and am the happiest being alive.

12733402_10153813764624718_7313163575317316324_n

Emma Magenta

 

What is your go-to art making song?

It used to be Arvo Pärt, but now it’s ambient electronic artists like Dead Texan, Steve Roach, Harold Budd or 1970’s over toning singer David Hykes. Some times, Kate Bush or Bjork, but that is only if I’m not trying to pull down new ideas.

 

How do you decide what phrase or wording represents the emotion you’re depicting?

I don’t think too much about it. I guess I just wait for the feeling of what I want to say and then I wait for the words to construct in my head and then I wait for the feeling in the belly of certainty. I am always writing, thinking and constructing ideas in my head so it’s just a matter of pulling something down.

 

Why is it important as a contemporary artist to share your work online?

I used to struggle with the online world as my process is so organic and non techno and being a nature lover and all, but the beauty of online is that you’re simultaneously connected to people all around the globe while never having to leave your studio. It is a great tool to share your work and also take out the middle man, the vampires all wanting a piece of your creativity and pushing you into a tight box of how your work should be seen. I’m tired of that shit. I became tired of not being the one in the driver’s seat of my own creations. I am interested in connecting with people not just dialoguing with other artists in a narrow world of “experts”. I am more interested in people honestly connecting with my work, being online as opposed to physical galleries is that it helps you reach a broader range of people. Also, no one cares about your work as much as you do, so you have to love it like a child and take responsibility for it’s path in the world and the online process is more autonomous…for now.

image-28-06-16-01-28

Emma Magenta

 

What is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you in the studio? What’s the best?

Commissions with a brief are the worst. The worst. Sometimes they can help you think about your process in a new way, but rarely. Usually it is someone trying to squeeze your style into their average concept and usually it is a very twee feel good creation that makes my dark side grow stronger. Magazine work is usually my top Never Again thing to do, no, wedding present drawings actually are my all time low. The best thing is being left alone with no concern of where the work is going to end up and creating without external pressure or deadlines, no exhibitions and just making work to unfold something I’m trying to understand about myself. Once in an old warehouse studio in the city when I was 23, I was so in the zone, of my work, I left my body but was still in the room and i was filled with such an indescribable ecstasy that I was timeless and I became everything that has ever existed or will exist. That was my best studio moment.

 

You speak about the connection between growing older and the progression of censoring emotions in your TEDx talk. Why is it important to shed that censorship? How can it help the artist?

I feel like have I kept my child self intact and always see the world through the child eyes, so adults have always seemed so unhappy and I could never figure out why. It’s like I saw that they were always lying to themselves or taking on false roles to fill someone else’s agenda. It never made sense to me, until I became and adult myself, I saw how we get sucked in by our generational attitudes to how we should be. I was in my 20’s in the 90’s so irony and sarcasm were like social cues to kneel before if you were to be included and I just never could. I was always like “we don’t have to be unhappy guys, come on”. Censorship creates a false self and therefore your work as an artist is false and is buying into the strict codes of whatever era you’re passing through. It is this fear of not being included by your peers, but a true artist must be brave enough to walk alone if they have to and not be concerned if they’re not adored by their peers, to not conform, to trailblaze into deeper and deeper truths and realities IF they want to create meaningful work. If they just want a career that leads to a show at MOMA, then sure, conform and fill out those grant applications and dwindle your creativity down into the criteria of a panel of experts.

12670400_1273115532703857_7465330528801854219_n

Emma Magenta

 

Do you believe art school creates “anti-artists”?

It depends on the art school and what era you go there. It’s better to get technical skills than theoretical skills in my opinion. Because art schools are now becoming privatized or they are here in Australia, it will mean a diminished education and more hoops to jump through to fulfill government criteria agenda. Doesn’t sound like a good place for artists. But then sometimes yes, it will make you become a better more accurate artist because you have seen that even the art world has succumbed to the tyranny of the system and you’re basically own your own. This is very freeing and i hope art school creates more anti-artists but not to be cool. I just want to see integrity, honesty, talent and work that speaks to me. I don’t want to read a manifesto on why you are creating visual art unless it’s in book format. Academia has killed art, but has pushed the ownership of creativity back onto the artist if they’re willing to walk it with brave autonomy.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received as an artist?

It was actually from no one. Everyone around me was adhering to art history and academia so I was alone. The best advice was something I gave to myself and it was this: “Give up art, accept that right now you’re an athlete, draw for fun, draw what you want and feel. It is your world and therefore the only rules are the ones you give yourself, the flaw is the entry point for invention of new aesthetic combinations.”  So I did and here I am.

CcglGW5VAAA05i_.jpg-large

Emma Magenta

 

What is your plans for future art and your future self?

I exhibit my work in this remote mountain gallery, but I just won money to write and direct my first film that will be a combination of live action, magical realism and animation. I made an animation a few years ago for The ABC called The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch and this is my first short film called Remembering Agatha. It’s about a mother of 2 in a flagging marriage who finds a portal through the dishwasher to the forest of her child self. I’ve been writing the treatment and script since August last year and it will showcase in October 2017. I’ve been working on an accompanying illustrated novella as well. It looks like the film world is opening up to me with this and another project afterwards, i’m just going to explore it as a new medium. My future self is creating work, making books, films, drawings, making a new straw bale studio in my backyard, camping, building my vegetable garden. I’m involved in a community garden project next year so there’s that to focus on as well, lots of bush walks and longer term: constructing a community multi-platform production studio under my company name Cellar & The Attic.

13138909_1317894201559323_5205888882263106222_n

Emma Magenta

 

Where can we contact you, buy and view your work?

My website will be up this year, but  for now you can view/buy and contact me through the following:
https://www.facebook.com/BrainPornNinja/
https://twitter.com/BrainPornNinja
https://www.instagram.com/emma_magenta/
http://www.hathillgallery.com.au

Illusioned Solitude

Art, poetry, Uncategorized

Poem by Alyssa Campbell featuring artwork by Jess Petrylak

4a36cbd5-770c-42d8-8428-471e91fff8c4

I.

cheeks

Stabbing

air

Voices

slice

chalk boards

Drowning

malice

balled

Pain

mind

trap

hands

Above

swallow

floating

water

below

Head

 

II.

The sky’s railroads hold clouds traveling in packs while gods hide drinking wine

Us puppets on strings dangling from their fingertips– Death, dead

our heroes, our legends, in silence they Live on. Words on a page- through rhythm

dancing on, in silence

AnswersAreBorn

 

III.

Questions forever forming tears of longing hearts, railroads of chirping birds singing gay songs.

They’d change their tone if they knew what we have done if they knew

if they knew

 

IV.

The air stung my cheeks, voices nails on a chalkboard theheartiswrongtheheartiswrong gods drinking wine,

Us puppets on strings dangling from their fingertips–

 

V.

Death, dead- our heroes, our legends- in silence they Live on, words on a page through rhythm dancing on. Words On a page– through rhythm they dance on

insilenceAnswersreBorn

 

VI.

Clocks pointing broken fingers, dead ends- Caged thoughts spillingfrom the ceilingburnt skin- black sun’s.nuns holding rifles, Dead ends- caged thoughts spillingfrom the ceiling

Hell’s portalHeaven’s illusionEarth’s Asylum

 

VII.

Wondering soulsWondering souls, voices bold holding signs screaming “Anti-voices” aknowingunknown gods

drinking wine

Us puppets on strings dangling from their fingertips–

Selena Ruiz: Artist of the Month – June 2016

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

Interview by Jess Petrylak

90535

Who is Selena Ruiz?


Selena Ruiz is a 20 year girl born and raised in Riverside, California.

What was your first experience with makeup?

I would say when I was about 11 years old I would apply NYX black pencil liner all over my waterline and smudge it out. I wouldn’t dare try liquid liner back then, I thought winged liner would never happen for me.

41375

 

Where did your inspiration first stem from?

When my mom died in 2012, I started wearing makeup way more than I ever had before. I felt it was a way of coping.

21229                           

Your makeup style showcases and argues the theory that makeup truly is art. How do you believe makeup factors into the art world?

I don’t understand people who do not think makeup is art. How is it not? It takes inspiration, vision, structure, blending shades, product placement, etc. My face is a canvas.

97014

Who are some of your favorite makeup artists?

I love many, but Roshar (@rosharofficial) is the only makeup artist I aspire to be.

How do you decide which design to create on a daily basis? Does color choice play into that as well?

I usually go based off the look I did the previous day. At the end of the day, I’ll look at my makeup in a mirror and think of other ways I could’ve done it, like what other lines/shapes I could’ve connected or drawn. I just keep building off what I do.

What are some of your favorite products?

Sephora’s Liquid Liner, Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder, anything Sugarpill Cosmetics, and NARS Makeup Removing Water.

17792

What makeup style do you feel most comfortable in? Empowered? Vulnerable?

I feel most empowered when I have sharp thick wings, over sized top/bottom eye lashes, some glitter highlight, and wearing my favorite brown lip gloss. I feel most vulnerable when I’m not wearing eyelashes, to be honest.

3666

Do you think makeup companies look down on you or avoid you because of your lifestyle?

I honestly feel they do, I feel a lot of makeup artists and brands avoid me because I’m not strictly a makeup account, and because I post photos of marijuana. If they look down on me for it, that’s unfortunate but I know myself and what I am capable of despite what my Instagram portrays.

You’ve recently been experimenting with adding textures such as gem stones, taped brows, and spiked paper eyelashes. How do these products further your exploration with makeup and art?

Yes! I’ve been experimenting with different objects to apply to makeup because I get bored. Adding these objects to my makeup looks have really given me a lot of inspiration to find out how far I could take it and what could become.

7754

What is the worst comment you have received on your makeup style? What is the best?

I don’t even consider the negativity I get. There’s a lot of people who think my makeup is trash, but not compared to how many people think my makeup is great. I think the best comment I’ve received was from @shrinkle (owner of Sugarpill Cosmetics); She told me how much her and her friends admire me, and how much she loves my creativity. Also, I have to add, when I went to IMATS this year, Kim Chi came up to me and complimented the hell out of my makeup. I nearly fainted. And, oh wait, once, Kat Von D liked a makeup photo of mine. I cried.

9731

What does your makeup process look like?

Well after I smoke, I get started with my skin, brows, shadow, liner, lashes, highlight, contour/blush, lips, and then, whatever I feel like gluing on my face that day.

What is your go-to song to listen to when getting ready?
Bam Bam – Sister Nancy

Which decade of makeup do you take the most inspiration from? Why?

I take a lot of inspiration from 90’s editorial makeup. I admire the rawness. They would include props on already very intense looks. Very fearless. I find it badass.

FullSizeRender (94)

What is your response to people inferring that women wear makeup to please men?

LOL

What is your experience with education and makeup artistry?

I’m a high school graduate and am currently attending My Beauty Mark Makeup Academy. The only makeup artistry experiences I have are from the courses I take at school, so far: prince inspired makeup, a full face makeup course, and a moodboard makeup course.

You are undoubtedly a pioneer of pushing graphic liner into another realm, changing how people view makeup itself, and truly creating a style unique to you. Have you noticed your influence on makeup artists on the internet and in real life?

Wow thank you. People do looks inspired by me often and will tag me in them on Instagram. I think it’s cool that people actually feel inspired enough to go out of their comfort zones and do some unusual makeup. I do notice other artists switch it up a bit and try something I would do, but I don’t blame them, I just get kind of irritated when I don’t receive credit.

57972

What is next for you? What are your plans and your plans for your future makeup looks?

As of now, I’m just waiting to finish makeup school, and see what happens from there. Due to experience, I find it hard to plan ahead of time. Nothing is certain, but of course it would be my dream to pursue an actual career in makeup. I want to succeed. And as for makeup looks… stay tuned️.

28117

Where can we follow you, stay updated and contact you?

I’m pretty active on Instagram: @anythingforselenaaas, and I also have a tumblr! Follow me at  spock-ho.tumblr.com.

The Story of May’s Missing Artist of the Month

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

Comic by Rhianna Grace Henson

Words by Madison Killian


 All of our regular Sucker readers may have noticed that this month, our usual monthly highlight of underground kick-ass artists was MIA. 

We had been in contact with a fairly well know Vine star and artist, Nicholas Megalis- whom we were all fans of and thought the world of. He had agreed to be our artist of the month! 

After weeks of back and forth and getting jerked around, schedule changes, and still no interview- morale was low in Sucker Magazine’s art department.

Before we knew it- it was halfway through April and our artist of the month had still not given us the interview. 

It was then that the dark haired online King went on a quite misinformed Twitter rant encouraging his followers to skip college- a viable option for some, but not the most opportune or informed decision for many. 

We realized we may have been better off without said artist of the month- but in the spirit of being honest (and unmerciful), enjoy this comic strip.

We will always be honest with you guys, and we will also probably always be assholes. 

Enjoy…

rhianna comic 2

In Heaven, everything is fine

Art, Film, Uncategorized

Our Top 10 Favorite Movie Soundtracks

By Lucy F.R.

“Life is beautiful. Really, it is. Full of beauty and illusions. Life is great. Without it, you’d be dead.” -Gummo

What’s a great film without an equally as great soundtrack? (Hint: extremely fucking boring) Even the folks making silent film know that music can pull at your heartstrings more than any image could. Without further ado… Here are a few of our favorite film soundtracks.

270061bc-a5d2-4679-af43-8a3184644173

  1. Psycho; composer: Bernard Herrmann
  2. Requiem For A Dream; composer: Clint Mansell
  3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974); composers: Wayne Bell and Tobe Hooper
  4. Insidious: Chapter One; composer: Joseph Bishara
  5. Pulp Fiction; soundtrack by: Quentin Tarantino
  6. Kill Bill vol. 1 & 2; soundtrack by: RZA
  7. Eraserhead; composer: David Lynch (with songs by Fats Waller)
  8. Natural Born Killers; soundtrack by: Trent Rezner
  9. Lost River; composer: Johnny Jewel
  10. Gummo; soundtrack by: Randall Poster

Slamming Sexual Violence

Art, poetry, talk, Uncategorized

University of Oregon’s Student Poetry Slam Addresses Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Words by Alyssa Campbell

Illustration by Kayla Guttierez

slamming sexual violence

Illustration by Kayla Gutierrez

 

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words are also weapons.

When saying “no” is not enough, how do you cope with the trauma of being violated?

On April 5, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Team at the University of Oregon held round three of their Anti-Sexual Violence Poetry Slam. The first round took place fall 2014, followed by the second round fall 2015.

It started as a release party, a way to get people in the same space to pick up the newest issue of “The Siren Magazine,” a feminist magazine on the UO campus.

Students and guests showed sincere respect and expressions of deep compassion.

It was a safe zone.

“If I lose my voice I lose everything,” said poet and member of UO’s Organization Against Sexual Assault Sofia Mackey. “You cannot protect yourself from isolation.”

This year the slam was geared towards SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month).

“There’s a lot of talking at people and informing them. Getting the word out and not a lot of survivors getting to stand up and say ‘This is my experience and I’m gonna talk about it the way I want to talk about it,’ ” said Sophie Albanis. “This is valuable in that sense, it lets people define themselves and their experiences.”

Albanis is the organizer of the slam event, a member of Associated Students of UO and an advocate for the UO student government.

“This is definitely the biggest turnout we’ve had for this event,” said Albanis. “This is the most overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve gotten. I really feel motivated to do more poetry slams.”

These poetry slams have helped her become comfortable identifying as a survivor.

Albanis` experience is one that she has no memory of. Someone had to tell her about what happened the next day and although she doesn’t remember, she knows it happened.

“A lot of people feel because I didn’t remember it or because I didn’t feel the pain after it happened, I’m not a real survivor,” said Albanis. “This event is what enabled me to say ‘Fuck you, I am a survivor.’ ”

Through poetry, readers shared experiences of rape trauma, repressed anger, new love and generational trauma.

“I was suffering a lot, for me what really helped me figure some things out was writing,” said poet Vienna Soulé. “I didn’t have to keep that inside of me anymore. I could write it out on paper and that’s where it stayed.”

Vice President for the UO student government Claire Johnson works as a member of the Organization Against Sexual Assault.

“I strongly believe too often our society puts these ideas into survivors heads that it’s their fault or they deserve it,” said Johnson. “All of your stories really make a difference.”

It was her first time sharing a piece she wrote since becoming a survivor a month ago.

“Art expression is a super valuable way for people to release feelings and thoughts they may not be able to get out otherwise,” said Johnson. “Expressing myself definitely helps me one way or another.”

Working at past poetry slams and speak-outs inspired her to let her voice be heard.

“I really learned how important it is to have a safe space for people to feel comfortable to express themselves and their experiences,” said Johnson. “Without these safe spaces, it’s hard for someone to heal. I definitely resonate with that.”

The support she’s gotten from her coworkers, friends and other survivors she knows has given her the courage to share her story.

“I looked to them for strength and found courage within myself from the courage they had,” said Johnson.

Emma Sharp and Charlie Landeros, members of UO’s Sexual Wellness Awareness Team switched the mood up with rhythm and poetry.

The crowd responded back with praise as the duo rapped lyrics like “It’s my body and you’re not God motherfucker.”

Concluding the slam a man named Julius Alecsandre shared his story about being sexually assaulted and his family not supporting him.

“I’m very openly gay,” said Alecsandre. “Pertaining to sexual awareness, this is my story.”

The crowd covered their mouths and put their heads down as Alecsandre shared vivid details about his horrific experience.

“Even though I was fighting back his fists felt like bricks to my face. I felt him tearing me open,” said Alecsandre. “I remember waking up in the hospital surrounded by my family. They were embarrassed and angry.”

Dealing with the trauma of being sexually assaulted isn’t something that is easy to overcome, the scars never heal. But there are ways to help, you don’t have to suffer and isolate yourself. You don’t have to live feeling alone. There are people who care and you do matter.

“I want to challenge people to educate themselves on sexual assault. Go to events like this. There’s very real humans behind the stories, get to know them,” said Landeros. “Art is one of the last forms of magic we have in this world, especially poetry, it’s just raw emotion.”

At a Glance:

  • According to the Bureau of Justice, “Sexual assault is a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling.  It also includes verbal threats.”  
  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network has reported that every year there’s an average of 293,000 cases of sexual assault.
  • Every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted, 44 percent of victims are under the age of 30.
  • Four out of five assaults are from someone known by the victim and 47 percent are a friend or acquaintance.
  • Sixty-eight percent of assaults are not reported to police, meaning 98 percent of rapists will never face jail time.