A Place to Be Seen

Artist Lori Greene stands in front of her work, the Memorial to Survivors of Sexual Violence on Boom Island Park in Minneapolis. The project was spearheaded alongside community organizer Sarah Super and completed in 2020. It is the first memorial of its kind in the country. Photo Sarah Whiting

Mosaic offers many metaphors and possibilities. For example, broken pieces are put together to create a whole. A mixed-race person is a mosaic. Diversity in American culture is also a mosaic. I am a process person, a process artist. Building mosaics gives me lots of time to quietly consider what is going on, to pray in my own non-religious way.

For the Memorial to Survivors of Sexual Violence, I was very intentional with my thoughts about all of the survivors in the world as I built the panels. I wrote a prayer for them that I said every day: “You are love. You are safe. You are protected. You own your body. You own your mind. You are life.”

The inspiration for this work is my personal story as a survivor. I know that healing from rape is nonlinear; there is no prescription. In the beginning you may feel very alone. Without healing, that feeling may stay with a person for a very long time, maybe forever. Hopefully, you will find someone you can trust who will hold you and listen. Later, you may have more people supporting you. Sometimes, even after you have come to stand in your strength, you may feel alone again.

I used textile patterns that serve as amulets or protection elements to protect the people represented in the mosaics as well as to protect those viewing the mosaics. I studied textiles as an undergraduate. Part of the history of textiles is understanding the meaning of things woven into or hand-printed on fabric.

In every culture, patterns have meaning. Sometimes the meaning is to honor the sun and the rain; some patterns are about fertility, some protect. All of the people in the murals I created have patterns on their bodies or clothing, and the meaning is based both on history and on what I felt and intuited in the moment of creation.

The Memorial to Survivors of Sexual Violence represents and speaks to all of us. Unlike memorials that celebrate a war hero, which glorify only that person, the Survivors’ Memorial gives people a voice. It is a place to grieve, to be seen, to know you are not alone.

Lori Greene (she/her) is African American, Native American (Mississippi Band of Choctaw), and white. An artist and mother of three young adults, she creates art about healing from trauma and also about love and joy. She is a work in progress. She works with and for the community.

Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors