Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle founded FORCE in 2010. Our shared goal was to create art to generate a more public, difficult and honest mainstream conversation about the realities of sexual violence in the US, first through an art exhibition defining the culture of rape, and then by creating art campaigns.
FORCE shifted to a collective staff structure in July 2017, with the leadership of then staff member Saida Agostini. Former staff collective members include Shanti Flagg, Tyde-Courtney Edwards, Mora Fernández, Maia Owen, Hannah Brancato, E Cadoux, Charnell Covert, Saida Agostini, Rusty Marquis and Rebecca Nagle.
FORCE’s largest project was the Monument Quilt, which concluded with a display across the National Mall in May 2019. Earlier, we were most widely known for their 2012 viral panty prank, where we pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting consent themed slogans on underwear. In 2013, FORCE tricked the internet into believing that Playboy had released an updated anti-rape party school guide dubbed, “The Ultimate Guide to a Consensual Good Time”. We have also received national attention for projecting “RAPE IS RAPE” onto the US Capitol Building and for floating a GIANT poem written by a survivor in the reflecting pool on the national mall.
In 2017, then FORCE Chief Operating Officer Saida Agostini was named one of 21 leaders to participate in the fourth cycle of Move to End Violence, a program of the NoVo Foundation. FORCE is a recipient of the 2016 Sondheim Artscape Prize. In 2015, FORCE’s co-founder Hannah Brancato was named as a OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow. FORCE received funding and support through foundations that include Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Art Matters Foundations, the Krieger Fund, and Baltimore Community Foundation.
FORCE’s expertise on survivor-led advocacy was nationally recognized. FORCE’s staff presented at the National Sexual Assault Conference, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault Women of Color Network, Tennessee Coalition Against Sexual Assault Annual Prevention Conference, Louisiana Conference on Sexual Assault and Family Violence, and North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault Prevention Training, in addition to local and national anti-violence, communications, art and media conferences. Leadership team members presented about the intersection of the Monument Quilt with a range of issues at conferences that include the 2016 Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, Take Root, and Strong Women Strong Nation at the National Museum of the American Indian. FORCE also hosted trainings and webinars for more than 30 colleges and organizations, including the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois, the Army SHARP program, and Native Alliance Against Violence.
FORCE experienced numerous financial setbacks after the Monument Quilt Culminating Display in June 2019, primarily due to the unsupportive fiscal hosting environment in Baltimore that we and many other grassroots projects are still experiencing. Lack of support and transparency in the fiscal hosting sphere was a growing problem for FORCE for years. Then, the COVID-19 crisis hit, affecting our fundraising strategy. We also experienced internal lack of support and issues of racism in those meant to be FORCE’s most trusted guides and visionaries. These issues, building over the years, were handled with grace by those within FORCE who prioritized supporting survivors and victims of racism and abuse, who put themselves second to try to build something greater from moments of pain and conflict. We built FORCE into the unique, powerful, and beautiful collective. And in 2021, we decided it was time for FORCE’s role to change. The cumulative effect of an unsupportive environment left FORCE in a position where for the health of FORCE’s Collective and to best serve the community, we ceased FORCE’s active programming.
FORCE’s focus going forward will be on the archiving of the Monument Quilt, our collection of 3000 quilted stories sewn into 750 8’x8′ blocks from survivors of sexual and domestic violence from around the world. This mission is exciting enough in itself! FORCE seek to find a home for every single piece of the Monument Quilt, spreading its expressive power around the world. Do you want to be a part of archiving the Monument Quilt? Reach out to us!