“What Were You Wearing?” exhibit goes virtual

Cookies+decorated+with+%22End+the+Stigma%22+and+shaped+in+SAAM+ribbons+from+last+year%27s+on-campus+exhibit.

Cookies decorated with "End the Stigma" and shaped in SAAM ribbons from last year's on-campus exhibit.

Emma Lewandowski, Co-Editor in Chief

In honoring this April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month  (SAAM), Marian’s “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit will be displayed online this year beginning April 20 due to the restrictions from COVID-19. Coordinators Hannah Koniar and Grace Howe are transitioning the exhibit, which displays stories from sexual assault survivors and the clothing they were wearing when the assault happened, to MyMarian and Prezi, along with posting across social media platforms.

The exhibit was established in 2017 by former student Anna Buddelman, though  Howe and Koniar were passionate and successfully “pulled off [their] own,” exhibit in the years following to continue spreading awareness and calling attention to such a pressing issue especially on college campuses, Koniar says.

Grace Howe (left) and Hannah Koniar (right) in front of last year’s exhibit held in the Sabre Cave.

“No matter what you are wearing clothing is never an invitation, it is never consent, and this exhibit shows that no matter the gender, race, age, or clothing, it is never a survivor’s fault,” says Koniar on the purpose of the display. The stigma around victim-shaming is still present today, and it is important to remind each other that there is no excuse for a survivor being asked, “Well, what were you wearing?”  says Koniar.

Stories collected from survivors will be formatted onto a Prezi presentation, so that “all visitors of the online exhibit will be allowed to ‘walk’ through at their own pace and have the opportunity to exit out of it at any time,” says Howe.

Because sexual assault is such a widespread issue that can affect anyone, it was important to Howe and Koniar that this was represented with a range of different accounts from survivors.

From inside the exhibit with the walls lined with clothing pieces and survivors’ stories with them.

Howe says that there will be “stories from survivors of different ages, gender, race, and sexual identity, this way people will see it affects all kinds of people.”

The strain of keeping awareness even in times like these we are living, when it is difficult to connect with others in the traditional face-to-face mode we are so used to, led both Howe and Koniar to continue the exhibit. “’What Were You Wearing?’ is not an exhibit that can be overlooked which is why we are so determined to get this done,” says Koniar.

From the exhibit, no matter the medium its presented through, it is also a hope that this helps survivors  “realize that they are not alone and that they can use their voice to share their story too,” Howe says.

Howe ([email protected]) and Koniar ([email protected]) will be taking story submissions up until April 15, and the exhibit will run until further notice.