Artists Display Monument to Rape Survivors in Arden

August 11, 2014

Rebecca Nagle

Artists Display Monument to Rape Survivors in Arden

On Saturday August 9, an audience gathered in Arden, NC to witness stories from survivors of sexual violence.  Roughly 200 visitors saw these stories written, stitched and painted onto 200 quilts square in a public display of The Monument Quilt. The Monument Quilt, is an on-going project to create public healing space for survivors.

The quilt will be back in North Carolina for a display in Durham’s Central Park on Sunday August 24.

“I was in awe of the energy that surrounded the quilts,” said one visitor. “This work is vital and necessary.”

“By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal,” says Rebecca Nagle, co-director of Force. “The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how the US responds to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.”

“I was immediately struck by the color and the size of the quilt,” said another visitor.  “I’ve never seen anything like it.  The quilt is not only bold, but also reverent.  I’ve never seen sexual violence talked about in public this way.”


The Monument Quilt was displayed in Arden as part of Roots Week 2014. This year, ROOTS Week celebrated its 38th year with artists and activists showcasing their efforts to use art as a tool for social and economic equality.

“The Monument Quilt Project embodies the important healing work and creative engagement that it takes to build a culture of peace, respect, bodily autonomy, and wellnes,” said Jessica Valoris, the Visual Arts Coordinator of Alternate ROOTS.

The display was opened by a collaborative performance from Alternate Roots artists.  Baltimore-based artist and healer Shameeka Dream, who is touring with Force, performed a spoken-word piece entitled “No Means No”.  Miami-based artist Sonia Baez-Hernandez led a group of collaborators who performed a ritual about violence against women.

The Arden display was the first stop of a 13-city US tour.  The Monument Quilt is continuing to travel, making stops in Baton Rouge, LA; Quapaw, OK; Des Moines, IA; White River, SD; Fox Valley, WI; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Queens, NY; Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

Each quilt made for the project is completely different, like each individual experience with sexual violence. Some quilts contain detailed stories.  Some quilts contain parts of stories.  Others contain messages of support or statements about sexual violence.  Some squares contain no written language but are rather a landscape of an emotion.

One quilt stated in bold letters: “I reclaim my body as my sanctuary.”

One survivor wrote, “Please don’t tell me it didn’t happen or that I should be over it by now.”

People who are interested in adding their own quilt square to the project can find instructions here.

The 100 x 100 foot quilt displayed in Arden this past Saturday is only the beginning. Over the next two years, more stories will be added to The Monument Quilt. In a final display, The Monument Quilt will blanket over one mile of the National Mall with thousands of quilt squares to spell “NOT ALONE.”