‘Memento’ exhibit is a safe place for survivors | The Triangle

‘Memento’ exhibit is a safe place for survivors

The ‘Memento’ exhibit by Drexel alumni Rachel Wisniewski will be running at 3225 Arch Street until April 15. (Photograph courtesy of Rachel Wisniewski)

A portrait series of stories of sexual misconduct titled “Memento” by Drexel University alumna Rachel Wisniewski is being exhibited in the Office of Equality and Diversity at 3225 Arch Street during the Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Wisniewski received her bachelor’s degree in photography in 2016. She was inspired to do this project, which started in October 2017, by the ignition of the #MeToo movement and how many people were shocked by how both celebrities and people close to them started to speak about their experiences with sexual harassment.

This project captures recent pictures of numerous survivors of harassment next to a picture of them around the time they were assaulted, followed by a brief caption consisting of how old they were when it happened, where it was and how they knew their attacker. The descriptions are kept simple and are stated as facts so people would respect the survivor’s stories and not put their opinion in a story that is not theirs. Additionally, the captions are very general. Wisniewski explains that most people can relate to the places and people involved and can see that these attacks can happen in common places like a neighbor’s house or at school and by common people in anyone’s life such as a teacher, a classmate or a family member, and that assaulters are not really men hiding in the alleys.

“Also, showing women at a very young age like 6 or 12 years old shows people that they were not really asking for it,” she added.

After finishing with the project, Wisniewski found the definition of “memento” and thought it would fit the portrait of the pictures when the victims were younger perfectly.

“The definition of the word ‘memento’ is ‘an object kept as a reminder or souvenir of a person or event,’” describing the project on her website.  

The fact that the word starts with “me” and ends with “to,” was also a homage to the #MeToo movement.

The Office of Equality and Diversity first discovered the project through an article published by Vox October 2018 and immediately felt inspired by it, Reema Malhotra, an education and prevention specialist and deputy Title IX coordinator at Drexel University, said.

They contacted the artist and as soon as they found out the portrait series was done by a Drexel alumna, they wanted to work with her.

“We decided to show this gallery in our space because it’s about sexual violence survivors and shows that it can happen to anyone at any time at any age. It’s not about ‘you’re in college and you’re wearing short skirts,’ that’s not accurate and we want people to remember that,” Malhotra said.

This gallery that was awarded the Jacob Johnson Memorial Grant was inaugurated at the Office of Equality and Diversity on 3225 Arch Street April 8 and will be showcased until April 15.

The Triangle wants to remind that if you are a victim of sexual misconduct, or know someone who has been, the Office of Equality and Diversity is always available to help. To find resources or make reports please visit: drexel.edu/oed/reporting/Title-IX.