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Heed the Senses encourages healing

Students made crafts at the Heed the Senses event in Bucksbaum last week. Photo by Mary Zheng
Students made crafts at the Heed the Senses event in Bucksbaum last week.  Photo by Mary Zheng
Students made crafts at the Heed the Senses event in Bucksbaum last week. Photo by Mary Zheng

Last Wednesday night from 8 to 11:30 p.m., the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts became a space for healing through an event called Heed the Senses. Over two dozen installations of art, music and dance performances were held, and the event was open to the entire Grinnell Community.

The event, coordinated by Joyce Bartlett ’15, focused on the process of healing, especially regarding trauma caused by sexual assault.

“I think that I see a lot of people that were just hurting and not getting a space to really express [healing],” Bartlett said. “People don’t have to share their words, they just have to feel things.”

Bartlett received overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who attended the event, and was pleased that the campus community seemed to share her passion for creating a safe space.

“People didn’t need any explanation to understand why this event is important,” Bartlett said. “The feedback was affirmation that I’ve never felt before.”

Many attendees expressed similar thoughts. “It was a lot of people from different backgrounds coming together and really rejoicing the idea of survival and thriving after a tragic event,” said Tess Fisher ’18. “[It was] a very forward-looking and a very optimistic event about something that’s very difficult.”

Planning for Heed the Senses began last semester when Bartlett drafted a mission statement for the event. “I want to celebrate the humanity of people—how we are so weak and so strong and so vulnerable,” she said. “But also not in a dramatic way. People can come do what they want to do.”

Bartlett sent the mission statement to dozens of student groups, requesting their participation. “From there, the word spread around,” she said.

A number of on-campus groups, departments and individual students joined the charge including coordinators of the Wellness Lounge, student athletes and members of the art, music and theater departments.

The Bucksbaum rotunda displayed artwork and hosted performance groups, and several stations were set up for participants to make crafts. People were free to roam and experience the various displays and performances on their own time, creating a relaxed environment.

“I liked how casual it was,” said Rosie O’Brien ’16, who performed in Heed the Senses with the Grinnell Singers. “I didn’t have to dress up. I just walked around barefoot on stage and performed.”

Several works of art hung on the walls and from the ceiling, and each addressed the theme in a unique way.

Nathan Kim ’16 exhibited five creations, including one titled “Going Nowhere Slowly,” a sky blue cardboard car hanging from a string, with a phone in place of the windshield displaying a video of Kim himself screaming nonstop.

“[That] is definitely about the experience of like, ‘Oh God, what am I doing?’” Kim said. “It seems a lot of people related to it in a weird way.”

Bartlett also contributed art to the event. Her display of various articles of clothing from victims of sexual assault touched on the theme and stuck with the participants. 

“It really shows the vast majority of types of people who are survivors,” Fisher said of Bartlett’s work. “It shows that sexual assault is about taking power over somebody. It’s not about sex, it’s about making somebody less [than] you.”

Bartlett hopes to see more student-run events like Heed the Senses, and plans to meet with administrators in the coming weeks to discuss the possibility of hosting similar events in the future.

“There were a lot of [students] who really see the value in this event,” she said. “I think it’s great the administration intentionally put themselves into something about wellbeing.”

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