The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center will host an  exhibition titled “Resilience” through Nov. 4 featuring work from clients and families who’ve benefited from services at HAVEN Oakland.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center will host an exhibition titled “Resilience” through Nov. 4 featuring work from clients and families who’ve benefited from services at HAVEN Oakland.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki


BBAC hosts emotional exhibit from abuse survivors

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 13, 2021

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BIRMINGHAM — So often, art can be a form of self expression when words fail.

And perhaps the most difficult emotions to express are the ones that follow the trauma of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the bravery and relief of survivorship.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center will showcase a collection of artwork from abuse survivors and their family members, all of whom found a path to safety through the resources at HAVEN of Oakland County.

“Here at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, we have always known about the transformative power of art. The arts engage, inspire and connect us,” BBAC President and CEO Annie VanGelderen said in an email. “The HAVEN exhibit — ‘Resilience’ — is important in so many ways. The artists who also include children of clients, demonstrates their path of healing using art as its language. For the viewer it offers a glimpse into that journey, very personal and powerful.”

Interpretive art is a tool used at HAVEN often, according Program Director Ernestine McCrae. In healing workshops, clients are able to explore different coping mechanisms to move past their trauma, like painting, yoga, breathing exercises and other alternative therapeutic techniques.

“It’s just an opportunity for survivors to get together and walk their steps toward healing together,” McCrae said.

She said she’s always impressed with the work clients create, and she’s always surprised at what the artists are willing to share in their pieces, for better or worse.

“All of the designs are definitely different. Some got more in depth in their descriptions, using some of the harsh words their abuser used. And some focused on more positive affirmations, or religious based, that they now live within,” McCrae said.

After the exhibition, which runs through Nov. 4, the artwork will be offered back to the artists to keep. If they elect not to keep their work, HAVEN will hang on to it and proudly display it at various events in the future.

“This is a chance for survivors to be heard in another way and share from their standpoint what their journey looks like,” McCrae added. “I hope people will take the time to come see the art exhibit and hear those voices.”

“Resilience” is one of five exhibits currently on display at the BBAC through Nov. 4, including a collection of abstract paintings from Glenna Adkins, nature sculptures from Leah Waldo, paintings from culinarian turned artist Mary Wilson, and work from students of Fran Seikaly, a metro Detroit painter.

All exhibits are free and open to the public Mondays-Saturdays. For more information, visit the BBAC website at bbartcenter.org.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center is located at 1516 S. Cranbrook Road in Birmingham.

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