The Healing Power of Art — A New Exhibition Celebrating the LGBTIQ+ Community

Just Detention International-South Africa (JDI-SA) is thrilled to present the “Healing Power of Art,” an exhibition showcasing 30 art pieces by members of the LGBTIQ+ community, some of whom are survivors of sexual abuse in detention. Featuring painting, drawing, collage, and text, the pieces  celebrate the artists’ journeys to self-acceptance, while challenging  society’s rigid sex-gender binary. The works are connected by a sense of hope for a more equitable future. The exhibition is being launched in conjunction with the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), whose theme this year is No One Left Behind: Equality, Freedom and Justice for All.”

LGBTIQ+ people all over the world are subjected to staggering levels of discrimination and violence. The risks to their safety are even greaterwhen they are incarcerated. In prison, perpetrators target anyone viewed as “unmanly” — including gay and transgender inmates, first-timers, and those with mental illness or disabilities. Survivors who dare seek help are often dismissed, humiliated, or blamed for causing their own victimisation, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

JDI-SA is a health and human rights organisation that seeks to end sexual violence in all forms of detention. In 2019, JDI-SA started conducting trauma-informed art workshops with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, using a methodology adapted from A Window Between Worlds, which supports organisations to incorporate creative expression into their work with trauma survivors. This trauma-informed method uses creative expression as a tool for reflection and healing and supports participants in documenting their experiences. Art creation fosters a judgement-free, safer space to reflect on one’s identity, experiences, goals, hopes, and truth.

Contact person: Unathi Mahlati