The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013. Created by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, the project was inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I Was Wearing.
On May 24, 2013, Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman attended a conference hosted by the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Little Rock, Arkansas. The conference packet included the poem What I was Wearing. Dr. Simmerling wrote the poem in the early 2000s and received a registered copyright in 2005.
Deeply moved by the poem, Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman began to brainstorm ways to create a visual representation of the poem during a break at the conference. Throughout June 2013, Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman conceptualized and developed the framework for the Installation. Ms. Brockman contacted Dr. Simmerling during the summer of 2013 and was given permission to utilize her poem in connection with the Installation.
In September 2013, the Student Union Connections Lounge was reserved to host the first “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation for Sexual Assault Awareness Month to be held April 2014. From September 2013 and onward, student-survivors at the University of Arkansas voluntarily shared brief descriptions of what they were wearing when they experienced sexual violence via personal interviews with Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman. These descriptions were used to recreate the outfits worn during the assaults. Clothing for the Installation was donated by Peace At home Thrift Store in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The first “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation was displayed at the University of Arkansas March 31-April 4th, 2014.
For more information about the installation and learn how to bring “What Were You Wearing?” to your community, visit https://sapec.ku.edu/what-were-you-wearing.
From the Kansas University “What Where You Wearing?” curation guide.