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Artist: Amanda Grieshop
Survivor: Laura Swanson
Medium: Digital photograph of survivor with original wheat paste mural: 19.5 x 27
Artist’s Statement: “Finding OZ” is a multi-layered representation of Laura Swanson’s journey of healing from sexual trauma and the joy and empowerment she discovered within herself along the way.
The first layer of her story is a 9’ x 12’ photographic mural of Laura, depicted as a modern-day Dorothy, referencing her geographic connection to a childhood in Kansas and the symbolic journey of Dorothy discovering a strength and power within herself on her pilgrimage to the City of OZ. Dancing and creative activism through documentary filmmaking are two very powerful components of Laura’s continued healing, both of which can be seen represented in the mural. Laura literally dances in a yellow-sunflower field which trails away from storm clouds (trauma) and faint ghost images of subjects from one of her films. The overall tone of the mural is likened to an original 1939 Wizard of OZ movie poster, nodding not only to the film itself and its meaning, but also to the filmmaking in Laura’s life.
The placement of mural, the second layer (615 E. Kalamazoo Street, Lansing) migrates Laura’s geographic location from Kansas (her past) to Michigan (her present).
And in the final photograph, layer three, we see Laura, not as a young Dorothy, but as a courageous and empowered woman, larger than life, seemingly taller than the Boji Tower. She stands independently in her strength, having discovered her power comes from within. Laura is facing the viewers, looking fortuitously ahead and not to the past, behind her.
“I remember feeling like I had a very different understanding of the world than many of my peers and I was going to grow up in a different way. When I step back to look at my life and all the experiences of trauma, I see an overwhelming amount of growth.” — Laura