Catharsis for Women in Washington

Catharsis on the Mall, the annual art vigil that empowers marginalized communities and highlights social issues, will return to the National Mall this fall. The event will exult in the looming shadow cast by the Washington Monument—and in collaboration with the Bliss Project, it will be neighbored by a colossal 45-foot tall female figure by the artist Marco Cochrane entitled “R-Evolution,” which will face the White House.

Beginning on November 9 and spanning three days, Catharsis attempts to bridge gaps between the divides of race, religion, gender and sexuality. It seeks to impart the idyllic wisdom that empathy is the remedy to the bounty of turmoil plaguing modern society, commemorating the work of artists who endorse the notion that all elements of the world are interconnected. Since its conception in 2015, the event has peaceably promoted social justice, with prior themes centering on illuminating and dispelling stigmas surrounding drug abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. Now in its third year—and beholden to its expressed purpose and sole intention of uniting all peoples through love and tolerance—the event has adopted the aptly named theme “Nurturing the Heart”.

The addition of “R-Evolution” comes out of an artistic alliance responsible for the production of a series of three large sculptures commemorating the female form; modeled after Cochrane’s collaborator, Deja Solis, the piece is a metallic construction of a nude woman meant to communicate strength and de-sexualize the female form, firmly combating the current siege of violence against women and promoting the notion that the systematic oppression of one gender is detrimental to all. Cochrane was inspired to initiate the Bliss Project by his own tangential experiences with sexual assault—in advocating for his work, Cochrane revealed that a close friend of his had been raped and violated outside his childhood home at the age of nine.

“It still haunts me,” he said. “I thought… that man couldn’t have realized my friend was a person… if he really could see her, this wouldn’t have happened.” Cochrane sought to exalt the distinctive identity of the his models, and each woman he worked with has “chosen their own expression, so you will see the actual woman, the person, her energy and spirit.” The resulting installations are awe-inspiring testaments to feminine strength and individuality.

Cochrane’s sculpture reflects the sentiments posed by artist and Catharsis spokesperson Natalie White, whose own recent artistic installations and demonstrations—including a two-week march from New York to D.C. last year in support of the Equal Rights Amendment—exploit traditional American propaganda by interweaving patriotic elements with female nudes in an effort to radically combat objectification. This aesthetic practice of repurposing the female form symbolizes the need for a concrete motif of equality—a need which has become increasingly dire in recent months. The demand for equal rights evoked by the art pieces echo the event’s pervading and deliberate call for the ratification of the ERA.

Catharsis, and each piece of artwork displayed therein, is put forth in fervent support of the credo held by the Bliss Project: that “art can illuminate the human condition and be a catalyst for social change.” This year, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the amendment—and the push for equality is now fiercer than ever before. With a mere two state legislative branches barring the full ratification and adoption of the amendment, curators and organizers for this year’s Catharsis are actively lending their voices—and their hands—to the cause.

The Bliss Project still needs help getting “R-Evolution” to the National Mall, where the sculpture will stand as a symbol of peace and equality for a period of four months. They are currently raising money for the installation on Indiegogo, and Catharsis is recruiting volunteers for the event. For additional information on the event—such as what to expect, what to bring with you and guidelines for appropriate conduct, please visit Catharsis on the Mall’s website.

feature image via R-Evolution’s IndieGoGo (2015 Galen Oakes Art).

Sarah Alexander is a recent graduate of Cal State Northridge. In addition to being a writer, she is a visual and performing artist, and attempts to use film, music and online platforms to spark conversation about social activism. She is an anomalous LA native, which affects her personality in a plethora of unique ways.

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Sarah Samantha Alexander is a writer, actor, and musician from Los Angeles, CA. She attempts to use visual and performative arts to spark meaningful conversation about social and political activism. She currently teaches Special Education for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Find her on Instagram or at her Website.