Sudbury

Meet an artist who is fighting her past sexual abuse through art

An art installation fighting the stigma of sexual abuse is travelling the province in a shipping container and is now in Sudbury.

Installation helps sexual abuse victims, like Marie Annette Pollock, to reclaim their voice

Sexual Assault: The Roadshow travelled the province in a portable storage unit. Shown here are (l to r) Sarah King Gold, facilitator for the project, Marie Annette Pollock, artist, and Tracy Gregory, founder of SWAN. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

An art installation travelling across Ontario in a shipping container has made it to Sudbury.

The vividly spray-painted container sits in Victoria Park on Frood Road, these words scrawled across the side: 

Sexual Assault: The Roadshow.

Sudbury is the last stop on a 21-city provincial tour for the Roadshow. 

Marie Annette Pollock, a victim of sexual abuse, says Sexual Assault: The Roadshow has allowed her to find her voice. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

As the container moved from city to city, people who've been the victim of sexual violence have contributed artwork to the display. 

That includes women like Marie Annette Pollock, who was invited to participate.  Marie said she was the victim of sexual abuse since she was a child.

"The assignment, when we first started was...we had to think of a memory of sexual abuse," Pollock said. "To my mind, the first thing came was how many children lose their innocence. So I did pictures of little girls."

As Sexual Assault: The Roadshow travelled from one location to the next, individuals were able to add their own artwork to the collective piece. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

"Whether you're an adult woman, or a little girl, not everybody listens."

"I also did the hear no evil, speak no evil that goes along with sexual abuse as well," she said.

"It's a taboo conversation but it's changing finally."

Tracy Gregory, founder and executive director of the Sex Workers Advisory Network of Sudbury, says The Roadshow is a way for victims to reclaim their voices (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Tracy Gregory, founder and executive director of the Sex Workers Advisory Network of Sudbury, the group that is hosting The Roadshow said the art is a way for victims to reclaim their voices.

"This is for all of us, this is for anyone who has experienced sexual violence," Gregory said. "Or has a loved one who's experienced sexual violence."

"This is a way of speaking back, to sexual violence, something that is so loaded with shame and stigma and silencing," Gregory said. "It is a way for us to unpack and redefine and change our lives."

Sexual Assault: The Roadshow visited 21 locations in Ontario, with artists in each location contributing pieces to the whole. Featured in this image is work from a woman on Manitoulin Island. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Courage, no matter what they throw at you

As for Pollock she said the opportunity to express herself in her artistic contribution gave her a voice unlike many others with similar experiences.

"I think of myself very proud to be a voice for those who can't speak," she said. "For the ones who are gone. And forgotten. I want to be the voice for them. For the ones who are still suffering."

"It's a long process, and hard, but takes a lot of courage to stick through to the end, no matter what they throw at you."

Pollock said it has even helped her in her own healing.

"I'm 49 and I've got a long history with sexual abuse," she said. "It doesn't matter if you're last episode was 20 years ago, it's a long process."