At the Michigan State University Museum, a series of Teal Talks is being hosted in the “Finding Our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak” exhibit. These talks take place on the second Friday of every month for an hour.
The museum opened the exhibit in April 2019 to provide a healing and learning environment to raise awareness regarding sexual violence.
The talks provide a forum for community members, students, staff and faculty all over campus to participate in facilitated conversations led by scholars and advocates about the exhibit and the important issues it raises,” said Elesha Newberry, campus outreach specialist. “It gives people an opportunity to think deeply about the exhibit as well as learn new ways to think about the issues it raises.”
Through different forms of visual art, poetry, text and audio installations in the exhibit, the survivors of sexual violence are given a voice to speak out and call attention to the issues. They are also encouraged to promote healing and transformation from their past.
“The main goal of these Teal Talks is to reach as many faculty members from different colleges on campus as possible as well as provide a forum for in-depth discussions of different aspects of the exhibit,” said Newberry. “We use the Teal Talks to raise awareness of the overall exhibit.”
At the Feb. 14 Teal Talk, the space was full of MSU students and faculty learning about the stories of survivors of sexual violence and how to help create positive changes. The speaker was Dr. Brian Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
“The Teal Talks demonstrate the advocacy of the sister survivors. Knowledge is a form of advocacy,” said Johnson. “The more the students are aware of the exhibit and the resilience of these sister survivors, the more that they will be able to advocate.”
Student Monique Jardell said, “This was my first time at a Teal Talk and I was really able to learn more and talk with people around me about different experiences. “The exhibit itself was extremely educational and inspiring because of just how strong and open these women are about their past traumas and experiences. They inspire you to want to be as brave as they are in everything in life.”
The exhibit aims to provide a safe environment for the sister survivors to share their stories and educate the public. It includes and explains the timeline of events that occurred with the tragedy at MSU as well as explanations of the resilience and strength of these survivors.
“We want to promote awareness about the effects and prevalence of sexual violence and let survivors know that they are not alone,” said Newberry. “We want to give everyone a voice, allow all of these women to find their voice, in order to support their healing.”
The exhibit has a theme focused around the color teal, which is recognized across the nation as the color for sexual assault awareness. In the exhibit, a statement reads “By going teal, you acknowledge your support in the fight against sexual violence.”
“The Teal Talks have been a great way to promote the exhibit and its importance, as we believe it is extremely important for MSU students to visit the exhibit and attend a Teal Talk so they can learn more and help in the future,” said Newberry.
The “Finding Our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak” exhibit is on display at the MSU Museum until the final Teal Talk on March 13.