The Just Project
Fighting Injustice Against Women / Fighting For Justice For Women
I believe that telling our stories is the best way to generate awareness, action, and empathy.
My cousin was a beautiful, funny, intelligent individual. She was friendly and kind to everyone. She ran 1/2 marathons and liked to paddle board. She was a makeup artist, yoga instructor and she was a talented dancer. She played Crash Bandicoot with my brother. She loved the Little Mermaid and M&Ms.
My cousin also suffered abuse: sexual, physical, emotional. She was raped; she was exploited. As a result, she became addicted to drugs. She fought hard to recover, to heal, so that she could tell her story and be a force for positive change. She confided so much in me but ultimately I seek to honour her, not pretend to understand her perspective, through the JUST Project.
I always felt close to my cousin. As a child, she was my hero. When we were older, when we confided in one another about our difficult experiences, I felt more tightly bound to her than ever, and hoped that we could push forward into the future, supporting each other and finding ways to empower other women. We found comfort in sharing our stories, stories that could be difficult to think about, let alone share. I told her about my struggles with severe depression, being bullied, and other details; and likewise, she confided in me. What strikes me, now, as I remember my cousin, is how I felt each time I saw her when I was little. There was always this sense of anticipating the end; always the realization that no matter how wonderful it was to be together, at some point I would have to go back home and the fun would be over. This feeling remained for as long as I knew her. Always, it seemed like I never saw my cousin enough, and that somehow the happiness of being with her would be over all too soon.
When she died in 2018 all I could think was that, somehow, I wanted to fight for her. As a contemporary artist, since her death, I have directed my practice into examining issues related to women’s mental health, women’s stories, and, my cousin’s story.
The result: the JUST Project.
Now, I am studying the connection between clothing and trauma.
This, because I find myself documenting my cousin’s story through items that belonged to her, especially clothing. This process has allowed me to honour her, without speaking on her behalf. As a result, I intend to merge my art practice with a curatorial practice. This is how I developed the JUST Project. Through creative practice, I want to raise awareness for women with experiences like my cousin, with stories like her own, to combat the kinds of systems and elements of our culture – from schoolyard bullying between girls, to trafficking, abuse and exploitation – that result in the kinds of experiences, trauma, that impacted my cousin. Therefore, my intention is that the JUST Project will be a form of creative social justice for women to share their stories, learn from, and support, one another. How will I do this? By encouraging women with experiences and/or trauma like my cousin’s, to share their stories.
How to submit/What you can do:
If you are a woman who has experienced or is experiencing abuse, addiction;
if you have been exploited or trafficked; suffered with your mental health trauma, or FGM: send me an image (photographed against a plain background, I suggest a white sheet) of one item of clothing that you feel symbolizes your experience. You do not need to give any personal details, but describe why you have picked this item. My intention is to take the images and accompanying stories and include them on this website for others to see. My aim is to exhibit this content in a gallery where a broader audience can learn from it.
Clothing, so intimate, everyday, and potentially ordinary, whether we realize it or not travels with us through our daily lives, and can be the mark of an intentional decision to make a statement about one’s self. However, for the purposes of this study, I will also consider/include other everyday items that are connected to clothing or style- for instance, make-up or jewelry, as appropriate imagery for this project.
Send us your image (outlined above) and your story. If you work with or are associated with a charity, women’s group or any kind of social justice activism for women, we would love to connect, to act as a creative outlet for women who are survivors to be heard.
To submit, please email your image and a short explanation about the image, how it symbolizes your experience, your story, your interpretation of trauma, to:
ewl [at] emmawl [dot] com