Images from Maria Cardona's graphic art series "Know Violence, No Violence" are currently circulating on campus plasma screens. We wanted to hear about what inspired Maria, an ACN intern, to address the many ways we encounter violence, including issues of race and stereotyping, using graphic media.
Maria Cardona: There are multiple factors that went into the creation of the Know Violence, No Violence series. The first was artist Traci Molloy's visit to Ashland in October. Her artwork really showed me the impact that images can have and how art can be used as a way to combat violence and ignorance.
Aside from Molloy's presentation, the idea of microagressions and racism played a huge role in the series. I wanted to represent the harsh stereotypes people of various races have to deal with on a daily basis and how these stereotypes dehumanize people into caricatures of who they really are. Sometimes stereotypes and generalizations make us miss the opportunity to really get to know people for who they are and not who they are "supposed" to be. As a minority, it is such a struggle to debunk these stereotypes, because sometimes we get so caught up in not being a stereotype that we can't really show every part of who we are.
Other than race, mental violence also helped me to create this series and to focus on the idea that violence isn't always physical or perpetrated by someone else. Mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression, inspired me to show the inner war many of us fight daily with our own selves. We don't think of these attacks on ourselves as violence but the long-lasting effects they leave on us and our self-esteem are proof that it is a type of violence--and that it is important for us to recognize it as this in order to combat it.
The final element that inspired me to create the series was the massive issue of rape. After reading the play "I Dream Before I Take the Stand" by Arlene Hutton, I was frustrated by how widespread victim-blaming is in this play and how ten years after this play was written our society seems to continue to hold the same beliefs. Reading this amazing play was what really inspired me to do something against victim-blaming and show that instead of silencing victims, we need to encourage them to seek help and justice.