Where can an idea take you?


What occurs when a social reality intersects with a powerful creative idea? Change.

The artists, activists and writers affiliated with The Voices and Faces Project are using their art to make what too often feels "unreal” come to life, reminding us that behind every fact and statistic about sexual violence there is a deeply personal story. We are inspired by their artistic expression, and—just as importantly—their compassion.

Our Latest Creative Initiatives

  • Words that create change

    Conventional wisdom, at least in feminist circles, holds that "the personal is political." But far too often in today's literary world, the personal serves as mass-market entertainment, devoid of any connection to the experiences of real women – especially those who have experienced sexual violence.

    If it is true that we live in a culture that embraces stories devoid of political challenge, then the books being created by writers affiliated by The Voices and Faces Project are truly counter-cultural. Read them and be inspired to create change.

    But don't stop there. Check out our Voices and Faces Project Reading Room, for a short (and decidedly subjective) list of books that make us think, feel and want to act. Our team member-penned reviews will tell you why.

    Fault Line by Christa Desir
    Christa Desir: Channeling her inner 16-year-old boy. Brilliantly.
    An alumna of "The Stories We Tell," our Voices and Faces Project Testimonial Writing Workshop, Christa Desir is passionate about the power of words. Fault Line (Simon Pulse), her forthcoming Young Adult novel about rape in a suburban high school, was conceived during our very first Voices and Faces writing workshop. Whip-smart and written in the voice of a teenage boy – yes, she pulls it off!—Fault Line will be published in the fall of 2013. Read Christa's story.
    Rape is Rape by Jody Raphael
    Jody Raphael: Telling the truth (even when it hurts).
    In Rape Is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis (Lawrence Hill Books), longtime Voices and Faces Project collaborator Jody Raphael takes on right wing ideologues who push the idea of false rape claims as female revenge, feminists who say that rape is being confused with "bad sex," police who fail to test rape kits, and rape victim advocates who use poorly sourced statistics. In other words, Jody's not afraid to challenge all of us to do better. And that's just one of the reasons we admire her so much. Read the Publisher's Weekly review of Jody’s Rape is Rape.
    Surviving the Silence: Black Women's Stories of Rape by Charlotte Pierce-Baker
    Charlotte Pierce-Baker: Breaking the silence, one story at a time.
    Surviving the Silence: Black Women's Stories of Rape (W.W. Norton) was written by Charlotte Pierce-Baker, a founding member of The Voices and Faces Project. At once deeply personal and insistently political, Charlotte's book addresses race, class and the unique challenges women of color face when confronting sexual violence. Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has called Charlotte's book "demand reading." We couldn't agree more. Find out more about Charlotte’s new book This Fragile Life .
    Still Kicking by Kate Hnida
    Kate Hnida: Still first, and still fearless.
    Kate Hnida—the first woman to play Division I football – is a founding member of The Voices and Faces Project. Her painful yet deeply hopeful memoir, Still Kicking (Simon and Schuster), recalls her achievements on the field and her experience with sexual violence off it. "I wrote this book for the same reason that I am a part of The Voices and Faces Project—because I want survivors to see that despite what we have gone through, we can still be unstoppable," says Kate. Watch Kate talk about Still Kicking in a Today Show interview with Meredith Viera.
    Anne Afterward by R Clifton Sparg
    R Clifton Spargo: A Man Making a Difference in the Movement
    This award-winning short story by R. Clifton Spargo, the creator of The Voices and Faces Project's writing workshop, is an exercise in testimonial fiction. Part of a collection that was a finalist for the Flannery O'Connor Fiction prize, "Anne, Afterward" introduces us to the situation of Anne Ramsey, a woman in her mid twenties who is abducted on the streets of Washington D.C., taken prisoner in her own apartment, and sexually assaulted. Thereafter the story shifts dramatically in time and in voice, centering always on the episode of Anne's assault, yet also casting her voice into the future where she recollects the devastation of that day and also measures her own instincts for survival. Esteemed literary critic Harold Bloom has called "Anne, Afterward" a short story that is "marked for permanence" and if this is so, perhaps it is because the courage and spirit of this story's heroine are as enduring and powerful as trauma itself. Read the story.
    Rape Girl
    Alina Klein: Talking to teens about the tough stuff.
    "Valerie always wanted to be the smart girl. The pretty girl. The popular girl. But not the rape girl. That’s who she is now. Rape Girl. Because everyone seems to think they know the truth about what happened that day, and they don’t think Valerie’s telling it. Before, she had a best friend, a crush, and a close-knit family. After, she has a court case, a support group, and a house full of strangers. The real truth is, nothing will ever be the same," writes Voices and Faces Project partner Alina Klein in Rape Girl, one of our favorite Young Adult novels of 2012. Alina writes in a voice that feels both authentically youthful, and worldly-wise, taking on the subject of rape and how it changes everything for its victims. Rape Girl is the story of a survivor who seeks justice and suffers for it, and then struggles to find the strength to fight back. We admire Alina for having the strength to tell it, and the voice to make it feel so real. Read the story.
  • Can a song save the world?

    It's not such a radical concept, really. Great music breaks down barriers. Casts aside conventional thinking. And changes the way we see the world (and the way we see ourselves). In the global fight to end sexual violence, maybe a music shock to the status quo is just what's needed. In the United States, one in six women and one in thirty-three men will be victims of sexual violence during their lifetimes. Millions more will be raped worldwide. If that's not cause for a rock and roll rebellion, we don't know what is.

    The Angel Band Project—Making music out of tragedy.

    The exiled Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, a survivor of the Siege of Leningrad, was once asked, "With all of the horrors occurring in the world today, how can you write poetry?" To which Brodsky is said to have replied, "How do you eat breakfast?" His response was part challenge, part statement of fact. The creation of art in the wake of violence was, at least for Brodsky, as essential as air: the way that he made sense of his own painful history, the means by which he confronted the damage still being inflicted on citizens all over the world.

    When we first heard the story of rape and murder victim Teresa Butz, and as we've watched her extraordinarily musical family (her brother is Grammy and Tony winner Norbert Butz, Jr.) come together to create a Voices and Faces Project benefit album in her honor, Joseph Brodsky's words came back to us. The Angel Band Project—like Brodsky's poetry—has the feel of the essential. It's an album that honors Teresa Butz, and challenges the rest of us to fight for a world in which violence in all of its forms finally ends.

    Angel Band Project100% of the proceeds from The Angel Band Project will benefit The Voices and Faces Project, helping us continue our work bringing the stories of sexual violence victims to the attention of the public.

    Download your copy on iTunes.

    Voices & Faces Project Vol.1—Inspired by a desire to create change

    Angel Band ProjectOur first benefit CD, The Voices and Faces Project, Volume One, features fantastic original tracks from Neko Case, Jessie Sykes, The New Pornographers, and Michelle Shocked, 11 other amazing indie bands and artists. Get your groove on for a good cause: 100% percent of the proceeds from the sale of this album benefit our work sharing the stories of survivors of sexual violence with the public. Listen to the Public Radio piece about the making of our Voices and Faces Project benefit CD, and the role that music can play in the fight to end sexual violence.
    Make a $40 or more donation to The Voices and Faces Project, and get the CD for free.

    Vocal Impact—A concert series to end violence against women

    Vocal ImpactThe Voices and Faces Project partners annually with ART WORKS Projects to create Vocal Impact, a concert series benefiting survivors of gender-based violence. Vocal Impact artists have included Martha Berner (affectionately known as "the cool girl's Bob Dylan"), New Zealand indie rock phenom Miriam Clancy, and Chicago favorite The Screamin' End. Be a part of Vocal Impact and experience music that moves, in every sense of the word.
    Creative Initiative

  • Art that inspires action

    The Voices and Faces Project believes that beautiful and compelling works of art can inspire people into action. Partnering with award-winning artists and collaborating with prominent artist organizations, we are deeply invested in changing the way that people view the issue of sexual violence and trafficking through powerful and provocative exhibitions and art works. Because it is often in simple visual representations that the power of the truth is most evident.

    Lived Through This:—Photographs from The Voices and Faces Project (Winter 2013)

    Photographs Award-winning photographer Patricia Evans, a founding member of The Voices and Faces Project, has made "working with available light" both her professional mission and a metaphor for life in the wake of sexual violence. In this multi-media exhibition, Evans' collection of photographs of survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and trafficking is accompanied by writing from "The Stories We Tell," our Voices and Faces Project testimonial writing workshop, and music and video from The Voices and Faces Project, Volume One.

    For information about supporting "Lived Through This," email

    Off the Beaten Path: An international contemporary art exhibition created by Art Works For Change

    Photographs Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women & Art, an international contemporary art exhibition, was created in response to a world that too often fails to grasp the scope and scale of violence against women. Curated by Randy Jayne Rosenberg of Art Works for Change, the exhibition features multi-media work from a list of 29 renowned artists from 25 countries, including Marina Abramovic, Laylah Ali, Yoko Ono, and Voices and Faces Project photographer Patricia Evans. The exhibition is touring the globe through 2015.

    The Chicago public programming series for AWFC's Off the Beaten Path exhibition was co-created by the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, Rape Victim Advocates and The Voices and Faces Project.

    FIND OUT MORE about the programming series
    VIEW the online exhibition

  • Performing an act of compassion

    A great performance doesn't always take us away from reality. Sometimes, it takes us right to its door. The award-winning films, plays and performance pieces we've highlighted below, developed or directed by our Voices and Faces Project members and partners, bring us closer to the issue of violence against women, and challenge us to act on behalf of its victims. But don't let that lofty mission scare you away. The critically acclaimed films and plays we've highlighted are as engaging as they are beautifully produced, reminding us that art that creates change is the best art of all.

    "The Voices and Faces Project is like dew in the desert. To those who are victims of sexual violence it is a home where they can transform whatever experience has separated them from their life, their family, and who they are, into a unique creative voice that can heal them, using community, work, art and ideas that elevate them."
    — Mia Goldman

    Mia Goldman: Using her voice and her story to create change.

    Open Window Voices and Faces Project member Mia Goldman's feature film, Open Window—an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival—explores the long term effects of sexual violence on the victim and those closest to her. Grounded in Mia's own story of living through rape, Open Window is a powerful demonstration of how survivor stories, told in groundbreaking ways, can raise awareness of the issue of violence against women. Mia's film, now available on DVD, is also used in "The Stories We Tell," The Voices and Faces Project's two-day testimonial writing workshop for survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and trafficking. We're inspired by Mia's courage, her vision and her powerful story. And The Voices and Faces Project has, in turn, inspired Mia. Learn more about Mia Goldman and this film here.

    Eliaichi Kimaro: Crossing the globe to confront a painful history.

    What happens when a woman goes in search of her identity and discovers that the cycle of violence she's been working to break in the US is part of her history and culture on another continent? Voices and Faces Project ally Eliaichi Kimaro's new film, A Lot Like You, raises important questions about the cultures we inherit and the things we choose to pass down. We love Eli's willingness to ask hard questions of the world, and of herself.

    Donna Jenson: Sharing what she knows.

    Donna JensonWhat She Knows is a one act play, created by Voices and Faces Project member Donna Jenson, that depicts a full range of what it is like to grow up in a sexually abusive family. Witness the main character figuratively (and even literally) dancing between life's joys and traumas, ultimately coming to survive the abuse that once shaped her, and reclaim her life. The original What She Knows score, composed and performed by master guitarist John Sheldon (a session player for Van Morrison), makes this Jenson's play as musically evocative as it is powerful. During a post performance dialogue, the audience is invited to engage with Donna and explore the issues surrounding childhood sexual abuse. We love Donna's extraordinary voice – and her courage.

    Tod Lending: A film worth seeing, and sharing.

    The Voices and Faces Project recently consulted on Burden of Silence, a short documentary film produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Tod Lending. Burden of Silence focuses on sexual violence in the Native American community, and the unique forces that those seeking justice encounter. We encourage you to watch, and share, this beautiful film.

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