Visual Arts continues to be an invaluable asset within the struggle to counter sexual violence and “to end rape culture” on the campus of universities says Zainub Verjee, Executive Director of Ontario Association of Arts Galleries (OAAG) leads Visual Arts as a partner in the $2.5 million Partnership Grant awarded to McGill University from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to research sexual violence in Canadian Universities.
Dismantling institutional, social and internal silence by prying open what was once a confinement, Visual Arts, in a multidisciplinary sense, is an act of reclaiming space with a voice that cannot be ignored.
The Project Director Dr. Shaheen Shariff says, “We are delighted that Executive Director, Zainub Verjee helped us initiate a partnership with OAAG, as part of a multi-disciplinary partnered research project on sexual violence, funded by the SSHRC. Ms. Verjee brings a wealth of experience in arts and culture to our project, having been a senior and key member of the arts community in Canada. Her depth of understanding on how the arts can inform and mobilize critical dialogues and bring student survivors of sexual violence, academics, artists, legal and health professionals, and the media together will be invaluable to our research.”
Verjee says, “the practice of Visual Arts is a form of generative inquiry—they generate conversation and dialogue — represent inquiry in a language that is both meaningful and accessible. The logic and methods involved in this specific yet open form of knowledge production and dissemination implying the idea that Visual Art is to be conceived as embedded within the thinking process itself. Central to this allusion is that the Visual Arts constitutes both as a site and means of knowledge production.”
“As a member of our Advisory Board, she will guide us on mobilizing our networks through curated exhibitions, to inform curriculum and policy over the 7-year term of this project, towards sustainable arts-based and student-created strategies to confront and reduce endemic forms of sexism and misogyny in society”, adds Dr. Shariff.
Ms. Verjee informs that as a form of public pedagogy, Visual Arts underscores the central importance of formal spheres of learning and provides citizens with those critical capacities, modes of literacies, knowledge and skills that enable them to both read the world critically and participate in shaping and governing it.
In this context, Verjee says, “Visual Arts is suggested as a broader category which incorporates multitude of practices and discourses. For example the interactive experience of a game called Decisions That Matter, and as it follows a group of college-age friends on the night of a party. Similarly as a community art project the Monument Quilt is a public healing space by and for survivors of rape and abuse. And the recent work of the contemporary artist Wendy Coburn define the prospect of the project partnership.”