Local Girls Talk Back Through Art

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By Crandall Sims

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- "As an outsider coming in, you know, for me it's was sort of shocking to see. Woah, this is really challenging, heavy stuff," says Lana Burgess, Faculty Curator & Liason for USC's McKissick Museum.

Insdie the McKissick Museum on the 3rd floor you will find the "Unlayered: Girls Talk Back," art exhibit.

To the eye the work is art on a t-shirt, but for the artist it's a personal story. All of the t-shirts were made by girls in a Lexington County Juvenile Arbitration program.

"There is a lot of research about art therapy and how that helps to work through everything from emotional issues to speech issues," says Burgess

The girls have faced drug abuse, violence and some have reportedly committed crimes like shoplifting and trespassing.

Yet, the exhibit is their outlet. The pictures on the t-shirts were made using magazine cut-outs depicting the struggle young girls face with image.

Because of their age the girls cannot be identified.

Other forms of expression include videos and poems.

"Some of these girls have been a victim of drug abuse, physical abuse, whether it's a boyfriend, a family member, a parental unit," says Burgess

"It's a great way to bring awareness, it's a great way to get people talking about it. It says a lot in steps toward prevention," says Rebecca Williams-Agee, Prevention Project Coordinator for the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Williams-Agee says it's not uncommon for victim's to use art to express emotions.

"Men, women and children for sure. I mean it's definitely, you know, for some that maybe a way that they feel safer. It may keep them from having to say it out loud," says Williams-Agee.

And while every story in the exhibit is different and every girl comes from a different background, in one sense they are the same. They're close to ending up in juvenile detention and the exhibit could help keep them out.

"They are expressing themselves and dealing with some of the issues they've faced as young women," says Burgess

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