Unseen Unheard: Voices Of Children Of Battered Women, 1995

Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA

A collaborative mentorship project between master Artist María Velasco and Santa Barbara High-School students Jethro Davis, Marbella Lázaro, Dalia Morales, Cecilia Villarreal, and Briana Viscarra, working wit the children of Second Stage, an 18th-month support residency program of Shelter Services for Women. Together, the participants helped give a visual and transformational voice to the often unspoken thoughts and feelings of children who have experienced violent family situations. 

We created drawings, paper maché masks, and life-size paper dolls. As a culmination of our interaction together, the exhibition reflected their own work and a glimpse into the complicated emotional landscape that the children are going through. The children’s drawings (ages 5-9) are silkscreened directly onto the walls, devoided of color, monochrome, with little black houses that serve to block their names. Anonymity here is not a choice but a necessity for personal safety. Small three-dimensional houses with a single window and a magnifying glass hang at children’s height, inviting viewers to ‘stand in their shoes’ and look inside. The interior reveals a fragments of their inner emotions, their behind-doors life. The opposite wall features eleven mirrors engraved with words representing emotional stages such as angry, fear, shame, overwhelmed, isolated, lonely, powerless, among others. At the end of the workshop, students were asked to make a wish to share with the world. Their wishes were inserted into fortune cookies and served at the opening.

This Art InPower project is funded by The Arts Fund Mentorship Program in cooperation with the Contemporary Arts Forum and the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission through the generosity of the James Irvine Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation. All Children’s programs are supported by additional funding from the Charles Bloom Foundation. 


Mixed-media: paper maché masks, life-size paper dolls, 11 mirrors with words engraved, 5 small black houses, magnifying glasses, chain, silk-screened drawings, children's drawings in slide form, fortune cookies with personalized messages inside..

Dimensions: variable, room size.

Participating Children's Drawings, ages 5-9.


Photo credit: Sky Bergman

Art and Design Gallery, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Visual Art Faculty Show