The Snowflake Project
I’m still taking submissions for my Snowflake Project.
If you have a story you’d like to share with me to be written on a snowflake or if you are interested in having this work installed in your exhibition space during a special event, please contact me. I’d truly love to hear from you.
I started making paper snowflakes after writing an open letter to a local ice cream shop owner for using a sexualized cartoon of a cow in their marketing campaign. I found the image deeply troubling. What I saw in the image was how casual we’ve gotten in our attitudes and messaging about the sexual objectification and degradation of women. What I saw was a visual representation of our country’s rape culture, including victim blaming, slut shaming, the trivializing and denial of rape, and the refusal to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence.
This is not about a cow. This is about how rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language and the objectification of women’s bodies through countless means, including advertising. This is about how something intended to be “funny” can actually glamorize sexual violence and contribute to a society that minimizes concerns about, even completely disregards, women’s rights and safety.
Most women and girls, and some men, live in fear of rape. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of that fear. The rape of one woman - any woman - is a degradation, terror, and limitation to all women.
My complaint started a very public, very vicious debate between people who agreed with me and those who not only dismissed my concerns as being overly politically correct, but resorted to hate mail, threats, and shocking sexual slurs.
I was also repeatedly called a “snowflake,” a term used derogatorily to describe what some folks believe are overly sensitive, fragile, easily offended liberals.
I needed to combat the volume of hate with something positive and came up with the idea of flipping the term snowflake around. I began making snowflakes out of medical paper, the kind found in rape kits. This paper is used to collect specimens from a survivor’s traumatized body after a sexual assault - hair and nail clippings, skin, DNA, and other debris left behind by the perpetrator. On some snowflakes I have handwritten a sexual assault statistic gathered from NJCASA and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), and on others I have written the details of a sexual assault gathered from survivors themselves, women who were willing to share that painful, private information with me.
I made snowflakes to shed a light on the truth - that rape and sexual assault occur every 98 seconds. I made snowflakes to give myself permission to continue speaking up and speaking out. I made snowflakes to give other women a powerful voice and, maybe, to help all of us begin to change the culture and heal.
If you or a loved one have been subjected to internet harassment or simply want to know how to keep yourself safer online, this guide has some great tips.