A recent art gallery that was hosted in the Indiana town of Elkhart was designed to spread awareness about domestic abuse to the locals, with art installations from local artist Sara Nidiffer, the most notable of which is a word art piece, with a puppet being held up alongside words.
According to Sara Nidiffer, the words that was used in the exhibit were excerpts from letters from her ex-boyfriend, specifically the hurtful words that left deep emotional scars; the words he used to insidiously manipulate and undermine her.
She says that she went through the letters her ex had written over the years, which she then attached to each string, which was then tied to the puppets held up in the art exhibits. For each exhibit, the strings were then attached to a 3D piece in a word art representation of how abusers control others with words, akin to a puppeteer manipulating a marionette.
According to Nidiffer, the idea was to share to others that domestic violence didn’t necessarily require severe physical abuse like beatings, but that domestic violence can happen in understated, silent ways. For Nidiffer, it was how her ex metaphorically hovered over her, controlling her every move; when she ate, slept, and when and what she said.
Nidiffer’s art is part of the first annual ‘Shout it Out’ art installation in Elkhart, IN, envisioned with allowing domestic abuse survivors like Nidiffer create beauty from their pain.
Elkhart County Victim Advocate Beth Floyd, who works in the Elkhart County prosecutor’s office and helps people file protection orders against their abusers says that this can be a form of therapy, for survivors to express their pain in creative and beautiful ways. She describes survivors as having such low, bordering on non-existent, self-esteem as to require constant and extreme motivation.
The ‘Shout it Out’ art installation was a collaboration between the office of Vicki Becker; Elkhart County Prosecutor, and the Elkhart Art League.
According to Becker, six out of the eight domestic violence cases that come into her office involves children which she admits to being deeply uncomfortable about, and believes that people should be as well.