Thank you, Penny, for sharing your inspiration, your talent, and your vision of this amazing, powerful project with us!
Portraits of Courage exhibit on display at The United Way
Lewiston Sun Journal
FARMINGTON — Portraits of Courage: Where Do We Find the Strength, an exhibit or original artwork honoring survivors of violence and their advocates, is on display at the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area on Broadway.
Two years ago, Penny Hood of Farmington, an artist and a licensed clinical professional counselor, stumbled upon an image of a 16-year-old girl from Afghanistan who had been raped by her next-door neighbor. The man was also the chief of police, who intended to intimidate her family and take their property. Her expression was blank, traumatized and hopeless.
As an artist, Hood felt drawn to paint her portrait and in doing so found that she had straightened her spine and put steel in her eyes. She had been transformed and Hood wished she could have shown her the image, perhaps allowing her to see a different future.
Hood couldn’t help but ponder the question of how survivors get from one place to another. Teaming up with SAVES, the local sexual assault prevention and response agency, she launched the art project this past spring.
Focusing on what recovery looks like in the lives of people who are (or work with) survivors of abuse, Portraits of Courage inspires and encourages those who have not yet found their own strength, to reach out for help. It includes screened participants who are willing to lend their voices and offer hope in a public venue; confidential interviews focused on the question: “Where did you find the strength to walk toward healing?”; the choice for participants to not tell their story and remain anonymous. The witnessing that occurs for the participant is translated into the portrait.
Portraits are then made available for display in public venues along with brochures of support services and mental health providers who facilitate recovery.
Hood intends to create 30 portraits for a rotating traveling exhibit. Eleven portraits have been on display at SAVES in Farmington and are also on display at the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20.