“Okey’s Promise: Celebrating the Human – Animal Bond”
Thanks to the contributions of Okey’s Promise Keepers ($3306) and a grant from Arts in Stark ($5000), we have raised $8306 to fund the latest Okey’s Promise project! The project is currently a work in progress and is slated for completion in July of 2012. Follow blog posts to see the work in progress. Contact BZTAT if you would like the completed project to visit your city.
When animals are suffering in society, children are too. When there is violence to animals, there is likely violence to children and others who may be defenseless. – Artist BZTAT via Okey’s Promise: Art for a Cause
A number of high profile violent crimes in the Stark County area have alarmed citizens in recent years. Many of these crimes involved domestic violence, and many were either perpetrated against, or witnessed by, children. National statistics inform us that children who witness or experience such violence are at great risk for becoming violent perpetrators themselves or being adult victims who expect to be abused.
Statistics also inform us that abuse to animals is significantly correlated with domestic violence and child abuse. Women often remain in violent situations because they have no place for beloved pets to go when they and their children go to shelters. Abusers often manipulate their victims through threats or actual violence to pets. Children who experience violence often express their trauma by harming animals, and many later become violent towards people as well.
The Domestic Violence Project, Inc. (DVPI) is deeply concerned about the youth served through its agency programs. DVPI is currently exploring opportunities to develop shelter options for pets so that Stark County victims of abuse can reach safety for themselves and their animals. In this effort, DVPI and artist Vicki Boatright (known as BZTAT) are collaborating to bring intense focus and awareness to these issues, and assist children affected by violence through an innovative art project.
DVPI and BZTAT intend to work with at-risk youth, encouraging them to use art as a means of self-expression and healing. In addition to the therapeutic benefit of creative expression, young participants will also benefit from humane education in the process, integrating empathy, compassion, integrity, wisdom and knowledge into their value system.
The artist will work alongside an art therapist with children and adolescents in groups, encouraging them to express themselves creatively about their experiences. The artists will then use the artwork created by the youth in a series of 10-12 professional artworks (approx. 48” H x 32” W each) that relate to the links between animal abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. These artworks will become a traveling exhibit that will be used locally by DVPI and other interested agencies at events and other designated activities to raise awareness about the issues of domestic violence and pet abuse. The artist will assist DVPI through public speaking and other activities during and after the project in a public awareness campaign.
This project is innovative on a number of fronts: 1) It empowers children and adolescents who have experienced the pain of domestic violence to utilize creativity as a means for healing, behavioral redirection and humane education. 2) It allows children to work with a professional artist to create an important piece of public art that educates and informs the public about serious issues. 3) It brings important public awareness to the well researched yet little known facts connecting animal abuse and domestic violence. 4) It assists in the promotion and development of pet shelter options for those seeking refuge from domestic violence in Stark County. 5) The artist involved has been nationally recognized for her innovative approaches to raising awareness for serious issues through art and also for creative fund raising for her projects (social media, Kickstarter, ChipIn, etc.).
Okey’s Promise, named for a small rescued cat, is a public art initiative designed to create awareness about the connections between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence. Its purpose is to create six highly visible public artworks to bring the awareness to a national and global audience. (Watch the video for the first project that explains the genesis of Okey’s Promise.)
We must treat our animals well, in addition to addressing the needs of children and others in need in the community. Merely sharing the facts doesn’t seem to get the point across, however.
Creating artwork that is highly visible to the community has a greater chance of connecting the dots for people. It is easy to ignore a fact sheet, but hard to dismiss a powerful public artwork that moves your heart and soul.
Our hope is that this artwork will start a dialog about the combined issues of animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.
Will you help us get the dialog going?
“Safe Animals Safe Kids” mural
The “Safe Animals Safe Kids” mural was created by artist BZTAT. It was completed in July 2011 and dedicated on August 5, 2011. The mural is painted on wood and attached to an exterior building wall in the Canton, OH Arts District.
The video below explains the genesis of the Okey’s Promise initiative and was used to raise funding for the mural through Kickstarter,com.