Gallery opening aims to raise rape culture awareness

By COLLEEN PEGHER

Editor-in-Chief

[email protected]

 

An art junior seminar class will not be displaying its artwork in the gallery. Karley Miller, a former classmate, withdrew from the school after she accused a fellow student of rape in early April. In place of their work, students in art professor Sue Buck’s junior seminar will be installing messages about rape and its effects. The installation is scheduled for this Saturday and the opening is Tuesday, the last day of classes.

Following the alleged incident in early April, Karley Miller reported her assault to both the local police and the school. Miller said that after her case was dropped by local authorities and the school told her they could not ensure her safety, she withdrew from Allegheny.

“The school stated that my personal safety could not be guaranteed,” said Miller in an email. “Despite this, [they] continue to guilt me and my family to push me back into going to school at Allegheny, despite already being accepted and starting classes elsewhere.”

Despite Miller’s accusations, Joseph Hall, director of student conduct and development, insists that all cases are looked into thoroughly before a decision is made.

“Once we receive a complaint we begin investigating. Those investigations can be ongoing. They take time and we work with all of the students involved, including their families. I cannot comment on specific students, but we do look into the matter when we receive a complaint. Cases can take up to two to three weeks to resolve, or in some cases, even longer,” said Hall.

In response to Miller’s experience, her former classmates have organized the gallery opening. Jasmine Davis, ’15, informed Buck and art professor Darren Miller (no relation to Karley Miller,) gallery director, of the class’ plans and has helped coordinate the gallery exhibit.

“We will take black tape and outline our spaces where the work would have gone, complete with our labels and artist statements,” said Davis. “We are doing the labels to show that we did the work and are proud of it, but are using the space to protest the way the school handled Karley’s case and support her for voicing her situation.”

The class will be using their artist statements in support of Karley Miller and to raise awareness against rape culture.

“We still want Karley’s wall to be in the center of the gallery, and her statement to be the first one seen,” Davis said. “Ours will echo support of Karley, and voice the concern of a situation going unheard for others. We are using Karley’s situation as one to amplify the problems with rape culture, rather than just focus on her. She was the spark to get it going.”

Professor Miller is overseeing the execution of the project but credits his students for the idea behind the project and the message that their work will convey.

“Art has been used as a vehicle to raise awareness and engage in protest for a very long time. The project is theirs. The idea is theirs,” said Professor Miller. “The responsibility for starting a dialogue about this issue on our campus is something that they decided they wanted to be responsible for. My role as gallery director and a professor in the department is to support their creative vision and help them engage in the kind of conversation that they want their artwork to engage in.”

Karley Miller encourages students to attend the gallery opening and is touched by the support she has received from her professors and peers in the art department.

“I have been met with nothing but support from the entire art department, professors and peers alike,” said Miller. “I am very excited to see the overall response of the protest and it fills me with joy to be a part of it; for the first time in my life I really feel like I have the chance to help change something that really matters.”

Miller has also received words of support from students outside of the department, as well as local women, who reached out to her following her decision to post a video on Facebook talking about her experience.

“As of now, the video has been shared 30 times within the site,” said Miller. “After posting the video, within five hours I had received more than 20 private messages from Allegheny students and women in the area with similar stories like mine, rape survivors who were told by either their friends or administration to keep quiet.”