New art exhibit dedicated to fighting sexual violence and mental health stigma to open in Ridgewood

Courtesy of Alissa Milano

“A Burden to Bare,” a group art exhibition dedicated to benefiting the fight against sexual violence and mental health stigma, will open its doors to the Ridgewood and Bushwick communities on Oct. 5.

The exhibition will display a wide range of artwork from 20 artists who are “committed to encouraging more open and honest dialogue about the realities of mental health, trauma, sexual violence and recovery.” It will run from Oct. 5 to Oct. 19 at 1022 Wyckoff Ave. in Ridgewood.

The show is produced by visual artist Alissa Milano and co-curator Kaitlyn Power, as well as the community real estate company Venn Bushwick.

Milano told QNS that as a survivor of sexual violence and abuse, she knows that “the pain doesn’t end when the abuse ends.”

My work often focuses on vulnerability, human connection and my own struggles with mental health and trauma,” she said. “I strongly believe in the power of using art as a tool for social change and inspiring connection and compassion.”

In terms of the name of the exhibition, “A Burden to Bare,” Milano revealed that the title is in fact a play on words that stems from the common phrase: “A burden to bear.”

“When we were exploring the title we were thinking about the weight that trauma and recovery hold on us,” Milano said. “It was meant to be a play on words of the burden that survivors of violence, trauma, mental illness are expected to hold and carry through their lives mixed with the show being an outlet for us to expose the truth of our experiences.”

She added, “The show is meant to be cathartic and help release what has been held in to encourage more compassionate solutions and growth beyond trauma.”

Milano connected with co-curator Power over their shared belief of “making the art world more accessible” and building community while doing so. Power added that because they both identify as “survivors of trauma in one way or another,” they felt it was important to create an environment where others feel comfortable sharing their experiences so that they may begin their healing process.

“I used to keep my demons in, but I have been so supported through art and conversation and I wanted to share that with other people,” Power said.

The art exhibit will also raise funds for the North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence by donating all the proceeds from the show (they’re asking for a $5 donations at the door) and 10 percent of their art sales.

On Oct. 5, doors will open at 5 p.m. with opening statements scheduled for 6 p.m. Then, performances by some of the featured artists will begin at 7 p.m., including Maxxx Pleasure performing drag, and dance routines by Ariana Andretta and Jade Salzano, among others.

“The performances include dance, spoken word, drag, and an installation/dance piece that viewers can actually walk through,” Milano said. “Each piece addresses different facets and sexual violence, harassment, emotional abuse and mental health.”

Being that Milano and Power are both residents of Ridgewood and Bushwick, they felt that having the exhibition live in their community came naturally.

“I also feel the energy in these neighborhoods is unlike any other,” Power said. “Bushwick and Ridgewood are filled with creatives who have purpose and want to make a change in the world, and I wanted to foster that energy.”

She added, “Also when you see the space you will understand why we absolutely had to hold the show in it. It’s a creative paradise.”

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