The Holocaust and Human Right’s Center of Maine (HHRC) and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) are thrilled to host renowned photojournalist Patrisha McLean’s extraordinarily brave multi-media exhibit on domestic abuse for a three-month run at the HHRC’s Michael Klahr Center in Augusta, opening to the public with a special event on Thursday Sept. 19, 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit will be installed on Monday, Sept. 16, and members of the media are invited to conduct one-one-one interviews with Patrisha at the HHRC during the hanging of the show.
Patrisha, a photojournalist based in Camden, started this project after her ex-husband, musician Don McLean of “American Pie,” was arrested for domestic violence against Patrisha in 2016. He was convicted on three charges of domestic abuse.
“The breaking of the silence was like the breaking of the spell,” Patrisha McLean said, “Women started whispering to me about the domestic abuse in their own lives, happening decades ago or still going on, and I realized I was far from alone. I realized that the shame which is at the root of the silence is both misplaced and dangerous. I had previously used my camera and pen to de-stigmatize people struggling with addiction and homelessness in our community. Now it was my turn: I added audio and turned to something very personal.”
“Finding Our Voices: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Abuse” features photo portraits and audio recordings of 20 women speaking out about the domestic abuse in their lives, ranging in age from 19-year old Sydney from Camden to 79-year-old Mary Lou from Scarborough, and including an architect, nurse, TV news anchor and corrections officer.
“What’s so important about this exhibit is that it breaks down not only the silence around domestic violence but also some of the stereotypes and misconceptions that contribute to that silence,” said Shenna Bellows, HHRC executive director. “Domestic violence is a human rights issue that we as a society have a collective responsibility to address. This exhibit is a brave catalyst for an important conversation, and it's fitting that it take place in the state’s capitol.”
The exhibit is supported by the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and the Maine Arts Commission and will be on display at the HHRC’s Michael Klahr Center on the University of Maine at Augusta campus, 46 University Drive, from Sept. 16 through Dec. 13. Additional events to encourage community conversations about domestic violence will take place including a Survivor Speaks event on Oct. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring the voices of survivors who participated in the project speaking on the theme of “What trapped me. What freed me.”
“Patrisha turned her personal tragedy into activism,” said Bellows. “Through art, she’s creating the space for a statewide human rights conversation.”
Featured in Maine Magazine in July, 2019 as one of Maine’s fifty “leaders creating a brighter future for Maine,” Patrisha has traveled the state since she first launched the exhibit at the Camden Public Library last January to speak to rotary clubs, school groups, libraries and other community events to talk about her experiences and the broader issue of ending domestic violence. She is about to start her second book club for women inmates at the Windham Prison around Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.”
For more information about the Finding Our Voices project or the HHRC Augusta exhibit, visit www.FindingOurVoices.net
If you or anyone you know has experienced or is experiencing domestic abuse, call the statewide domestic abuse helpline at 1-866-834-HELP.