“All of us have stories. If I had been exposed to something like this, it could have been my release. I could have healed faster. I want to be able to give them that.”
Nadelle Devries, one of two founders of the local initiative, Project Surrender, is seeking to help women let go through expression. Now a mother, wife and photographer, Devries struggled with sexual abuse until her teenage years.
Josie Torres (known as “Josie V”), fellow co-founder of Project Surrender, founder of the Eclecticism Series and local artist, also has dealt with cruelty in the form of a recent abusive relationship. Project Surrender was birthed after a post-apocalyptic photo shoot in collaboration with the local nonprofit StarveNoMore Art Productions.
“At the beginning of the photo shoot I felt insecure and awkward,” noted Josie V. “Toward the end, I got more comfortable and started to feel beautiful. I thought, ‘All women should feel like this.’ ”
The idea is simple. Women are given an outlet to express themselves, limited only by the boundaries of an index card. The idea was inspired by the ongoing community art project phenomenon, PostSecret, through which individuals mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
The subject matter ranges from hysterical to tragic to moving to inspirational. In the same vein, Project Surrender asks that its women contributors share their secrets, rants, anonymous dedications, truths, lies, worries and everything in between.
Women are encouraged to write their thoughts on an index card provided at one of the over 20 participating locations, including the San Antonio Pubic Library branches, Tucker’s Kozy Korner, The Mix, and Madhatters.
Submissions also can be messaged on Facebook or mailed to P.O. Box #1786, San Antonio Texas, 78216. One woman brave enough to share her identity along with her story will receive a photo shoot courtesy of Amourepropre Photography, be featured on Project Surrender’s biweekly ezine that is currently under construction, and her photos will be sold at the next Eclecticism show. A new featured woman will be chosen regularly.
The team is encouraged by the range of content received thus far. Said Josie V, “We have gotten a lot of responses so far and they are all so different. Some are just dirty secrets, some are stories of abuse. One said, ‘I have two boyfriends and I love both of them.’ ”
This project is being supported by the nonprofit StarveNoMore Art Productions, whose mission is to help talented artists develop their skills and gain exposure within the San Antonio arts community.
“We want to help people release themselves through art, music and poetry. Art is essential to the health of the body and mind ,” said Nicole Lemelle, StarvedNoMore President and Co-Owner of On The Half Shell.
Eventually, the women would like to take Project Surrender on the road and to work primarily with women’s shelters and with any organizations assisting women who have initial problems of letting go.
“We would love to later publish a book that features photos of the women and their stories,” Josie V said.
Seated before me, three women sit perfectly in their imperfections, complete in their fragments and unmistakably beautiful. Devries concludes with the simple statement, “It feels like I am getting a second chance by giving people their first.”
Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Concentration in Professional Writing and a minor in Anthropology from the University of Texas at San Antonio in December 2011. Her current Marketing position at the local nonprofit organization ARTS San Antonio has afforded her the opportunity to further explore her love of the arts. She now spends her nights among local musicians, artists and poets – finding beauty in self-expression. You can contact Melanie through her Facebook.
Related Stories on the Rivard Report:
Legitimizing an Underground Gallery December 2012
Jacinto Guevara: Inside the Artist’s Studio November 2012
The Arts United: A Platform for Expression September 2012