Illustrating sexual assault: High school art student gives voice to victims

Seventeen-year-old Alex Wood has organized an art show to raise awareness about a touchy subject: sexual assault.

17-year-old artist asking fellow creators to showcase work depicting sexual assault in upcoming show

Alex Wood, a high school student from Kamloops, B.C., uses her art to depict the impacts of sexual assault. (Alex Wood)

Alex Wood, 17, is using her artistic talents to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault. She's organized an art show that will feature her work, and the work of other creative Kamloops, B.C., residents. 

"I know many people that have struggled with sexual assault in their life and I've seen how it can really damage a person," she said. "I decided there needs to be a voice for it, somebody needs to do something about that," she said.

"I'm somebody. I need to do something to help."

Though she's still in high school and has a part-time job and exams to worry about, coordinating a show to raise awareness about such a sensitive topic, which she feels close to, is important to her. 

Raising awareness

Wood doesn't think people realize how frequently sexual assault occurs, and from what she's witnessed, young people aren't comfortable broaching the subject.

Between 2009 and 2014, 117,238 sexual assault reports were filed with police nation-wide, according to Statistics Canada. Eighty-seven per cent of victims were female and 26 per cent of victims were 13 years old or younger.

Creative friends and family have offered to contribute to Alex Wood's art show with their own works that represent their takes on sexual assault. (Sophia Doolab)

Based on her experience, Wood thinks there needs to be more discussion at home and in schools around consent. She said if people learned about sexual abuse and assault from a young age, perhaps the prevalence of sexual assault on university campuses would lessen.

"I haven't really been taught about that," she said.  

I'm somebody. I need to do something to help.- Alex Wood

So far, Wood has seen an outpouring of support from her friends, family and teachers, but she's hoping more artists will come forward wanting to contribute to the show. She's looking for diverse styles and stories because she knows one type of art will not speak to everyone.

"I find [art] is very impactful," she said.

Along with her own pieces, Alex Wood hopes other artists in Kamloops will come forward and contribute their own work portraying sexual abuse. (Alex Wood)

Wood plans to have fact-sheets for people who like to learn from statistics and talking points, but she also wants to focus on the emotion that accompanies visual art. 

"I am guilty of zoning out during a speech. But I have never once zoned out when I was looking at art."

The show is scheduled for Jan. 13 from 12 to 4 p.m. at Lansdowne Village in Kamloops.