Exhibition advocates for victims of sexual assault, transgender community

Out of the too-often hidden pain that haunts victims of sexual assault comes the desire for Columbus artist Julia Barrett to make something beautiful in response.

The subjects in Barrett's solo exhibition, “More Than a Body,” the July art show at Wild Goose Creative, are real people, and they are either victims of abuse or allies, she said, in some cases transgender individuals who themselves have dealt with harassment or some form of shaming. As Barrett's art practice consists of primarily figurative work, and given her own experience with assault, Barrett sought to make a positive, affirming statement amid a culture that, even post-#MeToo, often overlooks or dismisses victims.

“The show is about assault and abuse and harassment, but it's also about getting over stereotypes and rape culture and society in general acting a certain way toward certain bodies,” Barrett said in an interview at an Olde Towne East coffee shop. “I'm just trying to get the point across that this happens to everybody and we need to stand up for each other. We should be talking about these things rather than living quietly with guilt.”

Viewers don't need to know the names of those portrayed, not their specific experiences, to appropriately view the work, Barrett said. However, the pieces are both personalized and stylized in ways specific to what the artist knows about her subjects. Each figure is partnered with specific colors that match that person's personality, or “their aura,” as Barrett explained. Additionally, fabric and flowers both real and artificial are part of these mixed-media works, again paired specifically with a subject to make a particular point.

“People will stereotype bodies, will harass bodies because of the way they look. The show is trying to say, ‘You're more than what you look like,'” Barrett said.

The opening reception on Saturday, July 7, will feature comedy, spoken word and burlesque, all addressing the notion of bodies, but also to simply be part of an experience that uplifts, Barrett said. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from all art sold will be donated to the Founder's Women's Health Center.

“More Than a Body” will continue through July 22.