Tehya Braun Presents at the Center for Women in Leadership's Annual Board Meeting
Seaver student Tehya Braun's artwork, which she presented at the Center for Women in Leadership's Annual Board Meeting on February 12, 2018, at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. Project sponsored by the Center via an Academic Year Undergraduate Research Initiative (AYURI) award granted to her during the Spring 2017 semester.
PR: You recently presented your artwork at the Center for Women in Leadership's Annual Board and Key Stakeholder's Meeting. How did these particular pieces come about?
Tehya Braun: These pieces were inspired by my experiences as a survivor of sexual crime and my desire to become an advocate for other survivors. The project I proposed is titled, "We are Not What is Broken." It is designed to take a viewer on the sequence of emotions I felt as I dealt with my own tragedy, the main motif being the feeling of brokenness. My intention was for survivors to look at my work and feel validated, understood, and most importantly, not alone. Drawing from another famous survivor, Lady Gaga speaks eloquently over the issue; "You don't know what it is like until it happens to you." For non-survivors, I hoped that my pieces would function as a window for people to understand the shame, brokenness and terror that survivors endure. Overall it is my desire to bring people together to more comprehensively understand the realities of sexual crime, and to march forward towards ending a victimizing culture.
PR: Please tell us about this specific project as it relates to your artistic process. What question(s) did you hope to address with your artwork?
Tehya Braun: My artistic process is actually quite simple, after taking pictures of friends and myself for reference, I paint using emotions as my guide. Additionally, to tap into my intense emotions without succumbing to them, I listen to music as inspiration. In this sense, my artistic process in creating these pieces became a source of peace, pause, and healing. I had not anticipated how incredibly therapeutic this process would be for me, and I am thoroughly grateful for being given this experience. Overall, I hoped to answer the questions survivors often wonder with my pieces, specifically their personal questions of the validity of their experiences. For non-survivors I hoped my pieces would answer questions regarding what is it like, and society's question about the validity of survivor's experiences.
PR: Tell us about your larger artistic aspirations – where do your interests lie?
Tehya Braun: My ultimate aspirations with my work are to create scholarship programs for students and individuals with similar stories to mine. They would include a scholarship for victims of sexual crime coming to college, which I hope to include these paintings in. By hosting fundraiser events and selling these works, it would be a dream for me to help out fellow survivors who shouldn't have to worry about financial issues while they attempt heal and transition into adulthood. Additionally, I would love to create similar scholarships for single-parent families and for Native American children hoping to afford college. I have been extremely blessed with opportunities, and I believe it is my purpose to pass my fortune on, to help people find hope and pursue higher education.
PR: How has your participation in this project and presentation impacted you?
Tehya Braun: My participation in this research has allowed me to heal, and to see incredible hope from a place of great darkness. This experience has shown me that from brokenness, comes abundance, as long as you continue to fight. Most importantly, this has allowed me to understand that as survivors, we are not what is broken, and that by standing together we can make strides to healing a broken system which victimizes survivors.