Tuesday, October 9, 2018

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as National Arts & Humanities Month. A unique pairing of these topics is the focus of important work by tennis all-star Serena Williams, The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, and female artists including New Yorker Isabel Castillo Guijarro. Together, they are working to create awareness about domestic violence through a street art campaign that appeared in six cities, each with its own interactive mural.

Domestic violence, while remarkably common—affecting 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men—is often overlooked. The murals are meant to be backdrops for shareable photos made for social media to raise awareness of domestic violence issues.

Like the murals, these issues sometimes can be difficult to immediately identify. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse conducted a Public Opinion Survey which revealed that “the most common form of domestic violence—financial abuse—remains difficult to detect and understand,” with two-thirds of the general public saying they “have not seen anything on financial abuse as a form of domestic abuse in the public forum.” By design, if you look at Castillo Guijarro's mural using Instagram's moon filter, a hidden message is revealed: “Financial abuse is hidden in plain sight.”

At the New York City press release, Williams said she wanted to “do more” after she and her sister Venus opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center in honor of their sister, who was killed in 2003. One of the pillars of the Center’s work is art therapy: using poetry, music, dance, and movement to face and heal from trauma.

Through her engagement with Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, Williams has explored and defined different forms of financial abuse. In an interview with Refinery29, Williams stated: "Women aren’t paid the same as men a lot of the time, and do the same job. I do the exact same job as men and often, I’m not compensated the same way. And in this situation, maybe the abuser is holding back funds which is allowing the woman to get out of the situation. Or, I’ve heard of cases where they watch every dime being spent and they want receipts and it’s crazy. They instill this fear in them that there can’t be change and nothing can be done. And it’s important to raise awareness of that."

The limited-release murals were displayed in the following locations:

  • New York, Tictail Market, created by Isabel Castillo Guijarro
  • Houston, The Heights, created by Ana Marietta
  • New Orleans, Oak Street, created by Milagros Collective
  • Chicago, Wicker Park, created by Lauren Asta
  • Seattle, created by Ellen Picken
  • Los Angeles, created by Carolyn Suzuki