Shifting Perspectives on Trauma
November 30th - December 1st, 2019


Castelli Art Space | Los Angeles, CA


Featuring artwork created for survivors of trauma (muses), this exhibition is designed to promote mental health awareness, connect community, and celebrate each individual muse.




Event Recap Film
coming soon


Exhibition Works
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Reflections
Michael Collin
Digital printed on Watercolor paper

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be included as part of this project and even more so that someone I had never met before was prepared to open up so frankly and honestly to me about such a dark period in their life.


We spoke in great depth about her traumatic experience, as well as colors and styles that had a personal significance to her, and as the conversation went on it became clear to me that it would be very difficult for me to tell all of this story in one image.


I took many of the moments that I felt necessary to convey some sense of the series of events and also a glimpse into the range of emotions my muse experienced during this time. I also felt it necessary to use a variety of style, as each moment is uniquely different from the next.


I would just like to thank the Perception Project for allowing me to be part of such an empowering process and also to all of those involved who allow such important work to be carried out.


And last, but not least, I would like to thank my muse for being so brave as to share her story with me and also for being such a wonderful inspiration. I hope you are proud of our piece.


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Allegory of Gifts
Stephanie Leonard
Oil on panel

Memories should not sting and break u; your words account a life so distant from mine but a pain so equal in strength. I was humbled by you, from the minute you opened up and shared your words. Your courage led me to see the story lived and the story painted. The maze you walked and lived for so long has given way to a noble wise you. Like the gentle giant elephant determined and powerful, you have walked forward. Shaken and blended into your past’s colors, initially disappearing into the fabric of this maze that made you, hurt you, pulled you - but built you and propelled you. Your inner elephant now stands out front - detailed, clearer than ever before - you are beautiful with every little wrinkle and fold that your soul has accumulated and created. The maze now becomes your solid ground, your garden, filled beautiful Calla lilies and hummingbirds, surrounding you from near and far presenting your rebirth. You hold the key to this novel spirit. You are new, you are wise, you are illuminated by light, - your light makes the sun and the moon shine bigger and brighter no matter the winds or fogs of life.


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Margaret’s Magic
Meryl Lebowitz
Oil on canvas

Let the light of our children guide us through the darkness.


Artist, Meryl Lebowitz has been creating unique visual art for more than 40 years. A self-taught oil painter, Lebowitz has experimented with painting not only on canvas and paper, but also on a variety of unlikely surfaces, from violins to scrap metal. Her paintings range from the realistic to the surrealistic, often combining photographs with the painted image. Her subjects are familiar: local faces and landscapes, the interior of her studio or favorite restaurants, friends and family...but their appeal is universal. Her award winning work can be found in collections throughout the United States.


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Lullaby in the Sky
Heather Copinger
Mixed media on paper

Lullaby in the sky won't you hold my baby tonight.


I don’t believe we ever actually say goodbye to those we love, we just learn a different way to experience them. Their love can be seen in the beauty of a rose, heard in the laughter of a child, and felt in the depths of our heart.


After meeting with my muse, Ana Maria, and listening to her story, I wanted to wrap my whole heart around her. I wanted to tell her she is the perfect expression of strength and love and that she is not alone. I couldn't help but stumble to find words of comfort for her. Her story was difficult to hear, and it was evident that she is hurting, but her willingness to open her heart to share her story, her healing, and her boundless love was profound. She is on a journey of healing her heart and I felt grateful for her willingness to open up to me, and for the opportunity to gift such a beautiful soul a piece of artwork representing her strength and enduring love.


The inspiration for the painting was to depict a place of absolute peace. A place of prayer, acceptance, love, openness, forgiveness and strength.


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Strength
Jean Marchese Gallagher
Acrylic on canvas

As long as I’ve been an artist, I’ve expressed what I thought and felt through visual metaphor. This is the first time I’ve been a story listener who was given a list of visual signifiers that were meaningful as images in that journey. As I did listen to the story--moving from trauma to awareness and finally positive self-actualization—I felt myself becoming that person experiencing that struggle. I had to not use imagery that I chose, but a new semiotic language that I had to organize and prioritize that reflected a hope for strength: the love of pink, crosses, circles and hearts. The story—spanning decades of time-- ended with a strong belief in spirituality and hope for the future, so I felt it was important to make a symbol of strength and growth. My hope is that this painting will serve as a symbol of the success for this individual and will serve to heal, when necessary, when struggles interfere.


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Rain of Light
Kellie Thomas-Walker
Charcoal on Paper

Dear Annalisa,


Your story resonated with me quite strongly. As is in many ways paralleled my own. I read something the other day, “We are not bodies. We are souls that own a body.”


When I sketch or paint I immerse myself into my subject.


I tried to capture you surrounded by light. If you stand in the light and close your eyes, there’s a tangible peace that can be felt. I want you to look at it and feel the light. When things get rough find that stillness even for a moment. There are no accidents in life. There is purpose to everything. There was purpose that you were paired with me. We may not see it now. Or even ten years from now. But it’s there.


Find your peace and the purpose will follow. It was my pleasure creating this for you.


All my best,


Kellie Thomas-Walker


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Conflict Zone: Lesson
Nancy Willis
Oil on canvas

I was first introduced to Nadia Murad when I saw her on 60 Minutes in 2014, giving anonymous testimony about her capture, enslavement and escape from ISIS. I felt helpless and overwhelmed with empathy and continued to follow the story of the Yazidis, and the ISIS-led genocide against them.


In 2017, I began making art about the devastation in Iraq and Syria, thinking mostly of the women and children whose daily lives were shattered by violence and fear. In doing research, I discovered Yazda.org created by Yazidis living in Houston. I received a grant to travel to Houston for a collaborative art making project, Conflict Zone and helped 20 Yazidis make monotypes about their daily lives. I read Nadia’s book, The Last Girl, which was a first hand account of life before, during and after ISIS. In May 2018, I went to London to meet with Nadia Murad and help her create a monotype to add to the project.


During the art making process, I was fulfilling something within me, which was to give her some relief from the weight and grief that she carries, through an art making process. To not be Nadia Murad, victim, activist, role model, celebrity…but be Nadia from Kocho, with her brother and her sister, or Nadia, a girl playing around with printmaking.


She created an image based on a photo in her book. It is of Nadia, her sister Katherine and brother Hezni on the family tractor. I knew then I wanted to paint the same image and asked her permission to do so. I wanted to give her back some of what she lost, her innocence, her childhood and family security, and safe on the family farm.


Since then, Nadia has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to speak out relentlessly against strategies of war aimed at harming women and children. Her fearlessness in turning trauma into activism is inspiring.


The documentary On Her Shoulders gives a compelling look at the weight she carries with her. My project Conflict Zone continues to evolve as I continue to make more paintings in response to the Yazidi monotypes. The goal is to have both bodies of work travel to university art galleries where they can be part of a larger discussion about the human cost of war.


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Conflict Zone: HOVER/Syria
Nancy Willis
photopolymer chine collé

I was first introduced to Nadia Murad when I saw her on 60 Minutes in 2014, giving anonymous testimony about her capture, enslavement and escape from ISIS. I felt helpless and overwhelmed with empathy and continued to follow the story of the Yazidis, and the ISIS-led genocide against them.


In 2017, I began making art about the devastation in Iraq and Syria, thinking mostly of the women and children whose daily lives were shattered by violence and fear. In doing research, I discovered Yazda.org created by Yazidis living in Houston. I received a grant to travel to Houston for a collaborative art making project, Conflict Zone and helped 20 Yazidis make monotypes about their daily lives. I read Nadia’s book, The Last Girl, which was a first hand account of life before, during and after ISIS. In May 2018, I went to London to meet with Nadia Murad and help her create a monotype to add to the project.


During the art making process, I was fulfilling something within me, which was to give her some relief from the weight and grief that she carries, through an art making process. To not be Nadia Murad, victim, activist, role model, celebrity…but be Nadia from Kocho, with her brother and her sister, or Nadia, a girl playing around with printmaking.


She created an image based on a photo in her book. It is of Nadia, her sister Katherine and brother Hezni on the family tractor. I knew then I wanted to paint the same image and asked her permission to do so. I wanted to give her back some of what she lost, her innocence, her childhood and family security, and safe on the family farm.


Since then, Nadia has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to speak out relentlessly against strategies of war aimed at harming women and children. Her fearlessness in turning trauma into activism is inspiring.


The documentary On Her Shoulders gives a compelling look at the weight she carries with her. My project Conflict Zone continues to evolve as I continue to make more paintings in response to the Yazidi monotypes. The goal is to have both bodies of work travel to university art galleries where they can be part of a larger discussion about the human cost of war.


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Conflict Zone: Sinjar, Iraq
Nancy Willis
Oil on canvas

I was first introduced to Nadia Murad when I saw her on 60 Minutes in 2014, giving anonymous testimony about her capture, enslavement and escape from ISIS. I felt helpless and overwhelmed with empathy and continued to follow the story of the Yazidis, and the ISIS-led genocide against them.


In 2017, I began making art about the devastation in Iraq and Syria, thinking mostly of the women and children whose daily lives were shattered by violence and fear. In doing research, I discovered Yazda.org created by Yazidis living in Houston. I received a grant to travel to Houston for a collaborative art making project, Conflict Zone and helped 20 Yazidis make monotypes about their daily lives. I read Nadia’s book, The Last Girl, which was a first hand account of life before, during and after ISIS. In May 2018, I went to London to meet with Nadia Murad and help her create a monotype to add to the project.


During the art making process, I was fulfilling something within me, which was to give her some relief from the weight and grief that she carries, through an art making process. To not be Nadia Murad, victim, activist, role model, celebrity…but be Nadia from Kocho, with her brother and her sister, or Nadia, a girl playing around with printmaking.


She created an image based on a photo in her book. It is of Nadia, her sister Katherine and brother Hezni on the family tractor. I knew then I wanted to paint the same image and asked her permission to do so. I wanted to give her back some of what she lost, her innocence, her childhood and family security, and safe on the family farm.


Since then, Nadia has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to speak out relentlessly against strategies of war aimed at harming women and children. Her fearlessness in turning trauma into activism is inspiring.


The documentary On Her Shoulders gives a compelling look at the weight she carries with her. My project Conflict Zone continues to evolve as I continue to make more paintings in response to the Yazidi monotypes. The goal is to have both bodies of work travel to university art galleries where they can be part of a larger discussion about the human cost of war.


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Conflict Zone: Two Wheeling/Three Reds
Nancy Willis
photopolmyer monoprint

I was first introduced to Nadia Murad when I saw her on 60 Minutes in 2014, giving anonymous testimony about her capture, enslavement and escape from ISIS. I felt helpless and overwhelmed with empathy and continued to follow the story of the Yazidis, and the ISIS-led genocide against them.


In 2017, I began making art about the devastation in Iraq and Syria, thinking mostly of the women and children whose daily lives were shattered by violence and fear. In doing research, I discovered Yazda.org created by Yazidis living in Houston. I received a grant to travel to Houston for a collaborative art making project, Conflict Zone and helped 20 Yazidis make monotypes about their daily lives. I read Nadia’s book, The Last Girl, which was a first hand account of life before, during and after ISIS. In May 2018, I went to London to meet with Nadia Murad and help her create a monotype to add to the project.


During the art making process, I was fulfilling something within me, which was to give her some relief from the weight and grief that she carries, through an art making process. To not be Nadia Murad, victim, activist, role model, celebrity…but be Nadia from Kocho, with her brother and her sister, or Nadia, a girl playing around with printmaking.


She created an image based on a photo in her book. It is of Nadia, her sister Katherine and brother Hezni on the family tractor. I knew then I wanted to paint the same image and asked her permission to do so. I wanted to give her back some of what she lost, her innocence, her childhood and family security, and safe on the family farm.


Since then, Nadia has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to speak out relentlessly against strategies of war aimed at harming women and children. Her fearlessness in turning trauma into activism is inspiring.


The documentary On Her Shoulders gives a compelling look at the weight she carries with her. My project Conflict Zone continues to evolve as I continue to make more paintings in response to the Yazidi monotypes. The goal is to have both bodies of work travel to university art galleries where they can be part of a larger discussion about the human cost of war.


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Conflict Zone: The Family Tractor/ Nadia, Katherine and Hezni
Nancy Willis
Oil on canvas

I was first introduced to Nadia Murad when I saw her on 60 Minutes in 2014, giving anonymous testimony about her capture, enslavement and escape from ISIS. I felt helpless and overwhelmed with empathy and continued to follow the story of the Yazidis, and the ISIS-led genocide against them.


In 2017, I began making art about the devastation in Iraq and Syria, thinking mostly of the women and children whose daily lives were shattered by violence and fear. In doing research, I discovered Yazda.org created by Yazidis living in Houston. I received a grant to travel to Houston for a collaborative art making project, Conflict Zone and helped 20 Yazidis make monotypes about their daily lives. I read Nadia’s book, The Last Girl, which was a first hand account of life before, during and after ISIS. In May 2018, I went to London to meet with Nadia Murad and help her create a monotype to add to the project.


During the art making process, I was fulfilling something within me, which was to give her some relief from the weight and grief that she carries, through an art making process. To not be Nadia Murad, victim, activist, role model, celebrity…but be Nadia from Kocho, with her brother and her sister, or Nadia, a girl playing around with printmaking.


She created an image based on a photo in her book. It is of Nadia, her sister Katherine and brother Hezni on the family tractor. I knew then I wanted to paint the same image and asked her permission to do so. I wanted to give her back some of what she lost, her innocence, her childhood and family security, and safe on the family farm.


Since then, Nadia has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to speak out relentlessly against strategies of war aimed at harming women and children. Her fearlessness in turning trauma into activism is inspiring.


The documentary On Her Shoulders gives a compelling look at the weight she carries with her. My project Conflict Zone continues to evolve as I continue to make more paintings in response to the Yazidi monotypes. The goal is to have both bodies of work travel to university art galleries where they can be part of a larger discussion about the human cost of war.


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I Am Enough
Christiana Lewis
Mixed media

I am not the thoughts I think or the flesh I feel

I am not the words I speak out loud and in my head

I am not other's perceptions of me

I am not the wounds and broken parts I see

I am not the things that happened to me


I am enough I am whole just as I am

I am enough for these wounds are closing within me

I am enough as these wounds make me... Me

I am enough with the love I now see

I am enough and I now love me


Rosary beads & bible scriptures represent my Muse’s faith in God

Circles for cycles of love and life

Red roses are my Muse’s favorite flowers

My Muse loves nature and birds

These colors showcase the beauty of Guatemala

Wasps symbolize perseverance


Creating loving, vibrational healing art is Christiana's main purpose in every piece. You will always find hidden healing mantras, poems and/or messages as well as very bold statements. She only paints when her heart feels connected and pure with non-judgment, love and acceptance of self and the purpose or person for the piece.


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This Place Exists
Travis Flack
Wheat pasted photograph on birch wood, gauche

When you think about the word “place”, it can mean a variety of things. Most often it refers to the geography of somewhere or something that sticks out and has significance to any one person. However, “place’ can also refer to a state of being. You can be in a good or bad place mentally or otherwise, compartmentalizing somewhere you’ve been.


For this piece, I chose to explore both the ideas of place in how they affected my muse. Through strength and determination, they reached a place that still requires a great deal of practice to stay in. I found a lot of similarities with regard to the natural landscape of vast Southern California and how it exists - hard conditions but still teeming with life. We had talked about mountains and trees and birds. We talked about how life will be there the next day and the day after that. My muse has been through an ordeal; traversing rough mental terrain and still maintaining a life outside of all of it with such perseverance that I’m reminded of a beautiful red desert landscape - there is still a lot of love in between the rocks in spite of love itself.


By combining two images to form a completely fictional place I intended to create this loving landscape through their story. A homage to a specific state of being. Off in the distance trees grow, nature thrives and living things still prevail no matter what climate might be occurring. What I took from my muse’s story was one of hope through nature, family and time. These important things build a foundation to heal, and through the weathering of this composite photograph we are reminded that time helps this process.


I feel so incredibly honored to be able to participate in such a unique and transformative experience. I am thankful to my muse for sharing their story and allowing me to create something so intimate.


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Three Stages
Anne Garvey
Oil on panel

This piece represents three stages of healing: protection, sharing your story, and realizing your power and potential. As I listened to the experiences of my muse first hand, what struck me most was the incredible amount of strength required at each point. Not only does it take courage to find help and healing after trauma, but sometimes one must also remain brave in the moment, to protect oneself and others. Despite the suffering this person endured, her primary goal was to share this difficult story in order to help those in similar circumstances, so that they too could find it within themselves to stand up to adversity.


I chose to divide the paintings into a diptych to show the passage of time, from the protective hiding place of the cocoon to the newly emancipated butterfly. The yarn symbolizes the unraveling of the story being told over and over, as a necessary part of the healing process. The green and gold colors are a reference to the Monarch chrysalis, a species known for their beauty and ability to travel far distances.


It is my sincere hope that the amazing human being that acted as my muse sees a reflection of her own beauty, strength, and potential in this artwork. Her story will forever be an inspiration to me, as I’m certain it will be for so many others.


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