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Painting Connects Viewer to the Individual Experience of Domestic Violence

Each day at the Center, we analyze data, percentages, and facts and figures – behind these data, of course, are real women and real children who have experienced unimaginable cruelness, often at the hands of those in whom they have placed their love, faith and trust.  Art may seem an unrelated partner for a research center, but art has the ability to take abstract data and unimaginable acts and make them personal, make them visceral, make them inescapable. 

One such piece was recently donated to the Center by Honey Elder (Ms. Elder is married to Dr. Bill Elder, UK College of Medicine) in honor of Nora Boyd Vincent.  Silent Witness, a painting in Christine Kuhn’s Murder Ballads Series, powerfully conveys the horrific and far reaching impact of domestic violence on women and the children who stand witness.  Kuhn’s series is influenced by traditional Appalachian murder ballads, which depict through lyrics the details of a mythic or real crime.  Her initial research led to the exploration of conditions that may lead to murder, relationship violence being one.

Christine believes art can be both an act of activism and a motivator to activism.  “Viewing artwork can also lead to social change in that it increases the viewers’ awareness of issues in a way that transcends thought and promotes a visceral, emotional and holistic understanding of the reality of a given situation,” writes Kuhn.  “Viewers are effectively motivated to change sociality when presented with an emotional and personal view of the issue.  This is the point at which art and activism dovetail sublimely.”

Christine Kuhn is a visual artist and instructor based in Lexington, KY.  She holds degrees in biology, chemistry and diplomacy; backgrounds that lead to an experimental and process-oriented work style and interest in creating her own medium.  As an artist, she explores topics which are “swept under the rug” of modern western civilizations. 

Silent Witness will be displayed at the Center’s office on UK’s campus.  We invite those interested to visit the Center and experience the painting in person.   

photo of Silent Witness painting by Christine Kuhn

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