Shreveporter's traveling art exhibit aims to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault

Shreveporter's traveling art exhibit aims to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Scandals in Hollywood involving the likes of Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons, Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein have put sexual assault at the forefront of many people's minds.

Now a Shreveport artist also is working to bring attention to the matter.

Photographer Mollie Corbett hopes her traveling art exhibit, Outlier, will shed more light on the problem of sexual assault and will give victims the courage to come forward.

"Outlier was born out of my own personal trauma. I was victimized by the babysitter's son when I was just 5 years old.

"And I say he stole something from me and, with Outlier, I'm taking it back."

Corbett  said it took her a while to transition from victim to survivor to advocate.

Now Outlier's mission is to get other people through that process.

"That closure for me propelled me forward into a place of advocacy so that I could turn around and then help others coming up behind me who have similar stories but aren't in a good place," Corbett said.

She asks people the words their assailant said to them.

They then place those words in the cage.

"That cage is very low in the photograph of the subject because we want to put it in a place of shame and diminishment," Corbett explained.

The subject also is photographed with mementos from the assault.

"They can be positive or negative," Corbett said.

"For me, it was my lunch box. That was kindergarten year for me. So it's the lunch box that I used and my mom's kept all these years."

Oftentimes, victims of sexual assault feel alone.

Corbett's project aims to let them know there are others with similar stories.

"Those of us who have had this story and have gotten to a place of healing through it, that's not necessarily so unusual. But to turn around and to become an advocate for other victims, that's when we become a true Outlier."

Recently, there has been a shift in victims reporting their sexual assault after suffering in silence, Corbett said.

"So we're capitalizing on that opportunity to bring a screeching halt to the pandemic of sexual assault through allowing individuals the power of using their story as a weapon against that pandemic."

That trend has become even more prevalent with recent changes in Hollywood.

"I never thought I'd live in a time where I would see this kind of paradigm shift in the culture where the victims are being upheld as truth tellers and the perpetrators are having to say 'Whoa! What do you mean I lost my movie deal.'

"I think it's justice."

Corbett's traveling exhibit started in Shreveport and has since been to Lafayette and New Orleans.

"New Orleans broke our hearts," she said. "The stories there are so dark."

Corbett and crew plan on going to other cities as they get more funding.

Meantime, a film crew has followed the process of the exhibit.

Along the way, participants were interviewed for a documentary.

Now that crew is putting together the documentary and working with networks to distribute it.

A post on Fairfield Studios' website says:

"We've partnered up with Mollie Corbett Photography to tell the stories of sexual assault survivors. Mollie's Outlier Project aims to empower survivors, dispel stigma, and foster justice. We think she's hit the mark, and we're glad she brought us on board!"

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