“ar·ti·facts” Exhibit

ar·ti·facts: abortion stories and histories is a traveling exhibit.  It was curated by The Abortion Diary’s founder, Melissa Madera. This exhibition gives voice to our untold and silenced experiences through audio stories, images, and objects. These ar·ti·facts were gathered over the past two and a half years by Melissa for The Abortion Diary.

Bring “ar·ti·facts” to your college campus, museum, gallery, or organize a pop-up exhibit in your neighborhood. ar·ti·facts: abortion stories and histories is a unique experience. Visitors listen to audio, and engage with text, quotes, images, objects, and interactive stations, which provide space for self interpretation, raises provocative questions for listeners and viewers, and sparks dialogue. This exhibit connects visitors with people’s personal abortion experiences, offers audiences a more real and nuanced picture of abortion, and provides material for meaningful and relevant conversations in your community. Visitors listen to our voices as we share our stories in our own words.

Programming with the exhibit can vary from a 1 hour artist talk to a week,  month or semester long scholar / activist / artist in residency, working with audiences to engage with the exhibit, foster dialogue, and gather stories from their own communities. Melissa will also lead a Q&A that includes topics like social justice, reproductive justice, combatting abortion and reproductive stigma, student leadership, community building, political empowerment, social media and digital humanities as well as abortion in media and popular culture. Additionally, while on campus, Melissa can lead a second workshop and is available to have a meal with the students and faculty for more private discussions.

For more information about how to bring the “ar·ti·facts” exhibit to your community, please complete the form below or e-mail contact@theabortiondiary.com.

Exhibited: The Denison Museum, Denison University, Granville, OH (2/15 – 4/1/16)

Seeing the gallery itself felt like a radical and brave act, since abortion stories have been cloaked in so much silence for most of my life. The fact that the exhibit was there in the open, offering stories to hear, was amazing. I loved the interactiveness of the exhibit, that in order to fully experience we had to engage: pick up the phone, flip through the photo album, press play. In this way, I felt like I was involved in the movement to legitimize the sharing of such stories. It was also useful in helping me empathize with those who have had abortions, for while I must know many, many women who have had this procedure, only a couple have shared  this experience with me.” –Hannah, Student at Denison University (Read more student reflections here.)

“I believe this is amazing. It provides these women with a voice both to the public and to themselves to notice what they’ve overcome. Thank you for sharing your stories, brave and powerful women.” — Museum Visitor, Denison Museum

“Thank you for bringing this amazing and important project to Denison.” — Student, Denison University

“Thank you for sharing our Ohio stories.” — Museum Visitor, Denison Museum

“This is so powerful.” – Student, Denison University

“ ‘Artifacts: Abortions Stories and Histories’ presented by Dr. Madera at Denison University’s Museum showcases hundreds of different stories that you can listen to at different stations of the exhibit. Other areas displayed physical artifacts such as letters or art sculptures, but having the ability to actually listen to the different women’s voices had a deep impact on me personally. We often get lost in the statistics or the politics of abortion that we forget about the real women, from college to middle aged, who have lived it for all different reasons. As I listened to one woman’s story, I could picture her sitting on her couch, trying to flesh out her memory for whoever would listen. I could then go on to another station and hear the same woman tell us why she wanted to share her story. Weeks later I can still hear her voice—the stuttering as she tried to remember all the details from her past and the inflection in her words as she lived through the experience again. The power of these women’s voices is something I still reflect on even after visiting the exhibit, and by recording them and presenting them as artifacts, Dr. Madera has empowered these women and those who are willing to listen.” — Kirsten, Student at Denison University (Read more student reflections here.)

“Dialogue is the first leap required to promote change and create action, and the walls at Melissa Madera’s exhibit were certainly talking. Throughout my life I have always had unanswered questions and concerns about abortion that even the internet could not resolve, but it wasn’t a topic that I felt comfortable inquiring about or even had the means or words to do so. As young college women, this is an issue that potentially affects our own lives and the lives of the women we know, love and interact with daily. Madera’s exhibit re-centers abortion through a framework of voicing truth and speaking/writing/creating as healing. The attitude of shame that has seemingly hovered as a heavy cloud above the term, “abortion” is slowly and finally being replaced with the phrase, “It’s okay.” She frames personal experience as substantial evidence for promoting a change in the mindsets of people who are different from ourselves. The vulnerability and bravery of the exhibit filled the air of the museum and I felt myself breathing in the raw emotionality of the abortion artifacts.” — Justine, Student at Denison University

“ar·ti·facts” Bookings Request Form


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