If you’ve visited Downtown Wheeling this week, then you might have spotted a few mannequins that were artfully embellished and placed in conspicuous places like the Public Market and The Wheeling Artisan Center. Where did these mannequins come from? As it turns out, these life-size figures were created to raise awareness for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Since 1981, The Federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has led communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by raising awareness of victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.
According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2021, there were more than 4.6 million violent victimizations and 11.7 million property crimes, the latest year for which such information is available.
This year’s theme for NCVR week is “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.” Here in Wheeling, the YWCA Wheeling and art students from West Liberty University teamed up to create a thought-provoking art installation that can be viewed at several locations throughout Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties. Students were each given a mannequin and a specific theme to incorporate into their design. The goal of this project was to help build empathy and awareness about domestic violence, substance use disorder, hate crimes and human trafficking.
“It is crucial in our line of work to be able to hear and believe the victims we are charged with helping,” said Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA Wheeling. “It is so important that the victim know they have a safe space to tell their story and know they are being believed. It’s important for their healing and to have support at every step of the criminal justice process and beyond.”
West Liberty University art students were eager to be a part of a project that would bring awareness and foster conversation around topics that are often hushed. Participating students include Aley Panepucci, Jamie Daugherty. Haley McClain, Josie Carmichael, Jaxxie Marcum, Makenna Klarr, Angelica Rogers, Katie Zoellers, Lilianna Hardt, Sierra Stevens, Erin Yakesh, and Manuela Hoffman.
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West Liberty University Creative Arts Therapy Instructor, Terri Giller is especially proud to be a part of this awareness project. “As an art therapist, who has worked with individuals that have experienced or who were recovering from crimes such as domestic violence, substance use disorders, human trafficking, and hate crimes, I am so grateful for this opportunity for WLU Studio Art and Creative Arts Therapy majors to participate in this project. Art has the ability to help the public understand the impact of violent crimes and the victims of crime as more than just a statistic. The visual representations can allow the viewer to see the impact of crime on victims in a whole new way or gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of others.”
Human Trafficking designed by Jamie Daugherty. "For my mannequin’s design, I wanted to play on the way
humans are reduced to products - their feelings and lives
disregarded - in being trafficked. To do this, I decided to
paint and decorate the mannequin to resemble a package
of a raw cut of meat, like what you can buy in most grocery
stores. In dressing it up I intended to give it some
personality - more human resemblance - to make it a bit
uncanny to see the odd appearance of the skin. Because it
should be odd to see a person presented as a product. I
included a pricing label that is marked out, rejecting the
idea of humans being something to buy and sell. I wanted
my mannequin to be eye-catching and make viewers think
a bit deeper about the subject matter."
Addiction by Lilianna Hardt. "I wanted to represent the messiness of
addiction. The work shows a battle
being contained by the confines of her body. On the face there is a
representation of the opposite of a DNR (do not
resuscitate) instead it asks to please
resuscitate. A victim of addiction’s greatest gift
is to be given a second chance. The color
palette represents the chaotic nature of
Addiction and how it moves across a person
and their life. It can move quickly or develop
slowly as the brushstrokes show. My hope is
that this piece sheds a light on the points of
addiction that sometimes can be too difficult to
discuss in words."
Hate Crimes by Josie Carmichael. "For my mannequin, I didn’t want to hide the brutality and
tragedy of hate crimes. My figure is worn and beaten externally, but internally holds a bright and pure human
soul which the attacker has failed to respect. The gold rays
on his chest are meant to honor the specific communities
that are targets of hate crimes by resembling top surgery
scars of transgender individuals. The face being removed
and empty symbolizes the attacker’s disregard for the
victim as a person, instead viewing them only as the
community that they belong to."
The mannequins will remain on display through the end of this week at the following locations:
Public Market, 1402 Main Street, Wheeling
Wheeling Heritage , 1400 Main Street, Wheeling
WesBanco Arena, 2 14th Street, Wheeling
Mugshots, 1109 Main Steet, Wheeling
PJ Varsity Pizza, 2203 Ohio Street, Moundsville
Four Seasons Pool, 300 Mulberry Avenue, Moundsville
Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, 801 Jefferson Avenue, Moundsville
DiCarlos Pizza, 1720 Wheeling Avenue, Glen Dale
WVNCC, Main Street, New Martinsville
Magistrate Building, 257 Main Street (third floor), New Martinsville
For additional information about this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and how to assist crime victims, please contact the YWCA Wheeling at 304-232-0511 or visit ywcawheeling.org.
For more information about how to support all victims of crime, visit OVC’s website at ovc.ojp.gov.