“What Were You Wearing,” an art exhibit that asks participants to understand that it is never about the clothing when sexual violence occurs, will be on display at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from April 15-18.
The display will show recreations of outfits worn during assaults with accompanying stories from sexual violence survivors. Inspired by the poem “What I Was Wearing” by Mary Simmerling, the project intends to shed light on the burden of self-blame brought forth by the question that is pervasive for most survivors and the inability to shed those clothes and the experience.
“This powerful display is an opportunity for us all to examine our thoughts and beliefs,” said Melissa Wilkerson, the victim advocate for the university. “The goal is to have those who attend to walk away with an understanding that asking the question ‘What were you wearing?’ in response to a sexual assault survivor places blame on the victim—and it never belongs there.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public. It will be open in the Willa Cather Dining Complex, Pioneers A, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 15-17 and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 18.
The first “What Were You Wearing” survivor art installation showed at the University of Arkansas in 2014. Nebraska’s installation was inspired by the event at the University of Kansas.