Sometimes sensitive material can cause individuals to remember a certain event that may trigger strong, unwarranted emotions.
A trigger warning was placed before the entrance of the Reece Museum in lieu of the recent artwork premiered for the Fl3tch3r Exhibition.
Dr. Eric Avery, Wayne Dyer and Rebecca Alexander were all artists included in the exhibit and were hosted as panelists to discuss some of the controversial artwork presented for the public to see.
Each of these artists not only have personal experience in their field of work but also in their careers. Avery is an M.D. psychologist, Dyer is a professor in the art department at ETSU and Alexander is the assistant director of the ETSU counseling center.
The discussion began with the definition of what a trigger warning is and why there should be a notice before viewers are allowed to see such powerful pieces.
“We’re all a little bit sensitive to some things,” Dyer said.
They remarked that they don’t know the pasts of every individual that comes in to see their work. Though there’s this “continuum,” Alexander said, between not knowing everyone’s pasts and not wanting to avoid these topics because of its fragility. Alexander mentioned one of her past viewers had said to her, “Some of this is disturbing … I don’t know how to feel. I think I feel sad.”
What audiences may see are portraits or pieces of work that may invoke positive or negative feelings, though for this presentation, most of what was presented gave a sense of negative inspiration. It opened the eyes of many of the viewers to current social and political situations across the globe.
“All of this is really complex conversation,” Alexander said.
Avery commented on his own experience while viewing some of the artwork.
“I had to go into myself,” he said. “How do you live in a world where that is happening?”
Some topics shown were related to the Black Lives Matter movement, gun control, rape, the presidential election, capitalism, religion and starvation.
“If the art is disturbing, it’s only disturbing because it’s actually happening,” Alexander said.
For these artists, they wish to have their work speak to their audiences. They hope these pieces will present an opportunity to reflect on these topics and possibly discuss these issues with someone else. It allows healing for some and a chance for growth for all.
“We don’t grow unless we’re in a crisis,” Alexander said. “It can lead into something bigger in someone’s life … I think art has the power to do that as well.”