“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou
Artists' Books for Social Change
Jarring is a project by artist Mirabelle Jones to create a set of letterpress & digitally printed artists' books that end the silence and stigma surrounding sexual assault and rape by sharing the real life experiences of 22 survivors. The goal of this project is to create a publicly accessible archive of survivor narratives while raising funds for Rape Crisis Centers (RCCs) through book sales. Any funds received which are in excess of this project's goal amount will be turned into donations for Rape Crisis Centers as well as any profits from book sales.
Ending the Stigma & Silence Surrounding Sexual AssaultIn 2011, I began a project entitled JARRING with the idea of working with survivors of sexual assault and rape to publicly share their experiences. Despite the pervasiveness of rape and sexual assault in our society, affecting one in six women and one in thirty two men, survivors are shamed from speaking out about their experiences. Once I began speaking out, others came to me with their stories. The more I listened, the more I felt very strongly that these stories needed a place where they could be honored and serve as a platform for discussion about sexual assault and rape in our communities.
I started by breaking the stories down into three parts and storing them in three colored jars to mark the three stages of each experience: the green jar held the beginning of each person's experience. The red jar stored words and phrases concerning the assault. The blue contained each survivor's personal reflections on the experience at the time they submitted their story. The stories began to build, the jars taking on their own symbolic meaning as containers of a complex and socially repressed discourse.
Artists' Books for Social Change
In 2013, I decided to create a limited edition, hand-made digitally & letterpress printed set of books based on JARRING with the goal of creating a publicly accessible archive that would truly honor these stories, building a bridge between private and public discourse. The project entails making three books, one for each jar or part of the story, in a set of 50. Each book utilizes a different book structure to create a unique experience that honors the text and experiences represented while using the artwork and structure of the book to tell a story embedded in form, imagery, and movement as well as language.
Book one is a letterpress printed, accordion format book printed in an edition of 50 printed during a residency at Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY. I chose 11 handset type faces from the studio to signify the different voices and produced a photo-polymer plate of the original jar to serve as the main artwork. Additionally, the book will be laser cut to give the illusion of slips of paper in a translucent container.
Book two uses the flag book structure where slips of paper jut across each other to create the impression of multiple, layered voices. The book will be made of contrasting red acrylic and artist's papers, digitally printed with textures and text.
Book three will be a sculptural codex made of layers of Thai artist's papers, block printed and hand bound with wax thread.
The three books will be stored together in a slip case and sold to private collectors as well as some special collections libraries, creating a freely accessible archive of these narratives in one of the places they are most needed: the college campus. All profits from book sales as well as any amount I receive in this campaign which exceeds costs will go towards donations for RCCs. The project has the potential to raise over $20,000 for crisis centers through book sales and this fundraiser. It is my goal that for every book sold, I will offer one handling copy to a crisis center for therapeutic and personal use by survivors.
Where Your Funds Go
I am grateful to have received a project assistance grant from the College Book Arts Association, but am still in need of funding for the remainder of the project's costs. In exchange, I'm excited to offer you a number of limited edition letterpress prints and other artful items to reward and inspire you. Any funds raised through this campaign in excess of the amount needed to finish the project will go towards donations for RCCs**, so consider this an opportunity to receive a handmade work of art for your donation to a good cause!
What You Get for Your Contribution
In exchange for contributing to this project, you can select from a number of prints I've done over the years or specifically for this project. Examples below!
Special Thanks To: Women's Studio Workshop, The College Book Arts Association, Bay Area Women Against Rape, RAINN.org, Mills College Book Arts, Pandora's Aquarium, the crisis centers throughout the country which have spread the word about the project to date, and to the 22 survivors who were brave enough to share their story for this project.
You can read more about the project on the artist's website at: http://www.mirabellejones.com/jarring-a-book-arts-campaign-for-social-change/
Q & A
Why Share Stories of Sexual Assault?
I believe strongly that every narrative deserves a place for discussion in our community. This is especially important in regards to narratives which we find difficult to tell, and those which are difficult to hear. These narratives are integral to our understanding and acknowledgement of one of the most complex and destructive issues we face in society. By launching this project, it is my goal to encourage dialogue, unite the voices of survivors, dispel many of the myths related to sexual assault and rape by confronting them with true experiences, raise funds for RCCs through book sales and donations, and create an archive that is accessible to the public for research as well as for personal therapeutic use.
What Are the Funds Needed For?
In addition to the material costs, which for a set of three hand-made books (including one letterpress book) in an edition of 50 are pretty overwhelming, I've also been paying for any associated costs (including residency costs, travel costs, and letterpress access) out of pocket. I have not factored in any costs associated with my own labor as I am not paying myself for my time. Your donations specifically will go towards material costs, travel costs, residency costs, and shipping costs necessary for the completion and placement of the books.
What Is An RCC? Why Support RCCs?
Rape Crisis Centers (RCCs) provide vital services to survivors of sexual assault and rape that are absolutely crucial. These services may include offering counseling services, operating hotlines, community outreach & education, accompanying victims to the police station or hospital, helping survivors to make and pursue police reports, arranging legal or medical services, arranging victim's compensation for psychiatric services, and much more. Many RCCs are staffed primarily by volunteers and all are greatly assisted by public donations. Your contribution ensures they can continue to provide these necessary services.
Why Don't I Just Donate to the RCC Directly?
Considering the difference in costs and book sales, this project has the potential to raise over $20,000 for RCCs. Any donations I receive in excess of what I need to complete this project will also go towards donations to RCCs AND you'll get an artwork perk for your donation. So this way, you get something great for your donation and get to be part of a larger campaign with a potentially bigger payoff.
Why Is the Book So Expensive?
Unlike commercially produced books, self-published artist's books are extremely time consuming and costly to make. While I could have produced a more inexpensive, commercially accessible version of Jarring, I decided to create this set of limited edition artist's books using high quality materials with the intention of both honoring the narratives and creating work which is archival and built to last. I've tried to make the reward of the books as inexpensive as possible, but in order to support my goal of donating 1 handling copy to an RCC for every copy sold, I can't make it any less without the fundraising goal of the project losing strength. Update: I have added a perk of an economically priced, digitally printed codex set for private collections should you wish to have a version of the books for yourself or your organization.
How Else Can I Help?
If you are an artist and would like to run a similar campaign for a local crisis center, you can become a part of Art Against Assault. Campaigns can include performances, installations, or donations from artwork sales. Please visit the Art Against Assault website for more info.: ArtAgainstAssault.com
If you are a college student, you can talk to your special collections librarian about purchasing a copy of JARRING for your campus. Copies can be pre-ordered through this campaign or can be requested by email.
If you are interested in Art Against Assault, you can follow us on our Facebook page or Twitter to learn of upcoming events and campaigns in your area.
If you are a journalist or blogger you can share this campaign with your readers! Thank you!
*Statistics from Rainn.org. Note: statistics only reflect reported incidents and it is estimate that approx 60% of assaults go unreported. **All donations received which are in excess of this project's necessary funding or the goal amount (whichever is less) will be turned into donations for Rape Crisis Centers. This excludes Indiegogo's campaign fees which are 4% of the total and 3% for credit card processing, as well as any funds needed to make & ship rewards. If you would like to recommend an RCC for your donation, you can do so in the comments! Thank you!