Artist Carmen Winant brings attention to lived experiences of women in Knoxville Museum of Art exhibit

Daily Beacon / Feb 20, 2024 / by DJ Campos / Go to Original

Carmen Winant uses over 500 newspaper clippings of articles on domestic violence in her “A Brand New End: Survival and Its Pictures” exhibit at the Knoxville Museum of Art.; DJ Campos / Contributor

From Jan. 26 to April 14, Carmen Winant’s exhibit entitled “A Brand New End: Survival and Its Pictures” is on display at the Knoxville Museum of Art. This exhibit is meant to bring light to experiences that women have and how strength can shine through such bleak moments.

Winant, a photographer from Philadelphia, has worked on this exhibit for a few years and collaborated with Women-In-Transition and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Winant pulled photographs and newspaper articles from the two organizations’ archives to collage together a display of women’s violence that has not been shown to the public in years.

Winant uses over 500 newspaper clippings of articles on domestic violence that were put into inventory and puts them against colored copy paper to create a giant wall of different stories. Throughout the stories of terror and violence that have harmed women, the way they work together to become stronger is what takes center stage in the gallery.

Winant had previously done a project on feminist healthcare work and is working on another project for abortion clinic workers. This project felt more personal as Winant is from Philadelphia and going through these stories of domestic violence hit home but also made her feel empowered to put on this work that transcends boundaries.

“(This exhibit) illustrates how we work together in community to support one another,” Winant said. “How we build new worlds for each other in this oppressive system known as patriarchy.”

On another side of the wall are photographs of women working in a male-dominated space or rallying together to support each other. It shows the joy and freedom of feminist spaces that shine brighter than any difficult moment prior. There is also one side of the wall that has books stacked up to be the size of a person. The books are all survival guides that these spaces have available.

Although there is a wooden table with plants in the center, it is the corners that draw attention. On bright cardstock paper are “Power Control Wheels” which are often handed out at domestic violence centers for those who are looking for signs of abuse in their own or another’s relationship. These are free for the audience to take home and create an interactive moment between the community and the artist.

The backroom of the exhibit is one of the most intricate parts of an exhibit one may see. Its projects are scattered throughout the room projecting different images on a wall. Each projector has a carousel of photos to go through. One reel shows images of shirts created for the Clothesline Project, which started in the ‘90s for survivors of sexual violence who wanted to express themselves creatively. These shirts were made by survivors or family members who lost someone through domestic violence and wanted to empower others through their art.

D Schmerber is working as an employee for the Knoxville Museum of Art and was able to share how this exhibit is unlike any that they have assisted with before. They said their position also comes with knowing the art and artist in case anyone has questions during an exhibit showing. However, this is their first feminist gallery that depicts domestic violence.

“I always love exhibits that challenge people’s ideas and comfort zones,” Schmerber said. “It’s a challenge because the back of my mind does not want to hear this, but the front of my mind needs to see it to learn more.”

Art has many forms, and Winant intends to tell stories and invoke deep meanings through the art of photography.