New book explores art as creative expression in addressing sexual violence

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ASU professors Sally Kitch and Dawn Gilpin have co-edited a compelling new book entitled “Art, Activism, and Sexual Violence” which explores the transformative role of creative expression in addressing sexual violence.

Released in April 2024, the book offers an in-depth look at how various forms of art can be utilized not only to raise awareness but also as tools for prevention and as a means of combating sexual violence.

Kitch, Regents Professor of women and gender studies at ASU said that a story connected with ASU is what got them started. She explained that under the Obama Administration, federal money was available to universities to try to stave off sexual violence on campuses. According to Kitch, ASU decided that creative expression was an answer to the problem.

“We spent a couple of years having creative expression created on campus,” Kitch said. “Flash forward, people who worked on this, including Dawn and myself, decided to try to do a book. Not so much about the ASU project, but about art being used as a mechanism of social transformation.”

Through a collection of essays and case studies, Kitch and Gilpin showcase the diverse ways in which art intersects with activism, providing unique insights into its role as a powerful mechanism for exposure, advocacy, and healing. This work aims to inspire both artists and activists alike, emphasizing the potential of art to effect meaningful change in society.

“The book has gone through many evolutions, it’s my first chance to edit a volume,” co-editor and Assistant Dean at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication said. “It’s been a real learning process, and involving so many different authors and artists and the roster has changed over time. So I would actually say it’s turned out much, much better than I could have imagined in the very beginning.”

“The emotional impact of these images, all throughout the book, I think, can be seen that what it does to the viewer or the participant in a performance is really transform the way they’re looking at the issue,” Kitch said. “We have lots of comments from viewers in the book that talk about how it changed their minds and perspectives.”

Sally Kitch, Regents Professor, Women and Gender Studies, ASU
Dawn Gilpin, Assistant Dean, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, ASU

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