Photo of life-sized red and black wooden figures at Tinkham Veale University Center

Flora Stone Mather Center for Women hosts Northwest Ohio Silent Witness Project; offers Flora Challenge for students

In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women is hosting the Northwest Ohio Silent Witness Project at Tinkham Veale University Center through Sunday, Nov. 1.

In 1990, an ad hoc group of women artists and writers, upset about the growing number of women in Minnesota being murdered by their partners or acquaintances, joined together with several other women’s organizations to form Arts Action Against Domestic Violence. These compassionate women felt an urgency to do something that would speak out against the escalating domestic violence in their state. They set out to create something that would commemorate the lives of the 26 women whose lives had been lost in 1990 as a result of domestic violence.

After much brainstorming, the women began to design 26 free-standing, life-sized red wooden figures, each one bearing the name of a woman who once lived, worked, and had neighbors, friends, family, children, and whose life ended violently at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, partner, or acquaintance. A 27th figure was added to represent those uncounted women whose murders went unsolved or were erroneously ruled accidental. The organizers called the figures the Silent Witnesses (the original 27 witnesses).

In addition to hosting the exhibit from Northwest Ohio, the Mather Center also will sponsor the Flora Challenge. In honor of the social-reformer and namesake of the Center for Women, the Flora Challenge is a co-curricular, short-term, hands-on experience in which multidisciplinary teams of CWRU students work on community engagement project to promote gender equity with the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, their peers, and with the support of partner department or organization.

If you are currently a CWRU student interested in becoming involved, complete the Flora Challenge interest survey.