Savannah James

At this year’s Ridgewood Open Studios, artists and curators Alissa Milano, Kaitlyn Power and Venn Bushwick will be using art to raise awareness for sexual assault victims as well as artists dealing with mental health issues. A Burden To Bare, a group show consisting of 24 artists, explores the emotions, hardships and experiences that come with the trauma and recovery after sexual assault. The show will be held at 1022 Wyckoff Ave. in Ridgewood. 

Featuring artists from New York, Toronto and Rio de Janeiro, A Burden to Bare includes works spanning across various mediums — from painting to performance art and drag. The works were selected from an open call blast posted on Instagram, which allowed for artists to respond to the prompt freely. “We really wanted to create a space that gives people the outlet to have honest conversations about mental health,” Milano told Bushwick Daily. 

As a survivor of sexual assault, Milano has always felt passionate about helping others understand the experiences surrounding assault and educating others about related topics. “A lot of my work explores mental health issues, and sexual violence specifically,” Milano said. “There’s a lot of accessibility in the art world. There’s strength in bringing together artists to talk about these topics, which is something me and Kaitlyn really connected over.” 

A Burden to Bare is supported by Venn City, a company that fosters cooperative living spaces all over the world. Milano and Power found Venn through a women’s support group, and immediately reached out. “They donated their gallery space to us, and are supporting a lot in the production of the show,” Milano said. 

All proceeds and 10 percent of the art sales will be donated to the North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence, a local organization that serves domestic abuse and sexual assault victims, especially those of marginalized communities. 

Throughout the duration of the show, there will also be a few events that focus on bringing survivors together. A Burden to Bare will host a donation-based Reiki and yoga class lead by Cassandra Douglas on the opening night of October 5. The classes will be “centered around releasing trauma and feeling safe in your body,” Milano said. 

On the closing day, the North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence will be conducting a sexualt assault survivor support workshop, where they will train attendees on how to provide proper aid to victims.

A Burden to Bare will be up from October 5-19. There will be an opening reception from 5-9:30 p.m. Gallery hours will be announced later this week. To stay updated, follow Alissa or Kaitlyn on Instagram. You can also find the press information on Milano’s website. 

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