MSTM Arts & Culture Program Initiative

MSTM's Arts & Culture Program Initiative of 2020

MSTM is making the commitment to only invest in the creativity of the minority communities as they tell stories through the eyes of people of color as a 2020 initiative under MSTM's Arts & Culture Program. Throughout American History, minority communities have been exploited for their resources, their people, and their culture while never being allowed to participate in the creation of wealth. At MSTM we believe the best way we can pay reparations is to ensure we invest directly into the Arts & Culture of minority communities. This is how we pay our cause forward, in our pursuit of economic justice-for-all while collaborating to preserve the culture, talents, and the excellence that comes from minority communities but often remains ignored. Through our collections we are working to highlight minority artists and photographers who focus on capturing political activists and movement leaders.

Wonder Women Collection:

The Wonder Women collection is artwork of notable women who have made a significant contribution to MSTM. We honor the bold and courageous women fighting for change for the future generations of young people.

 

MSTM Takes on Washington D.C. 

September 2019, MSTM held the MSTM Takes on Washington D.C. event where survivors from around the country came together to train, protest, and lobby their elected officials for the MST Victim's Bill of Rights. During this event, a series of demonstrations were held at the Russell Rotunda, the Capitol Building, and at the United States Marine Corps. Commandant's Home at 8th and I. Some of the registered volunteers who took photos of the event filed a lawsuit in federal court for copyright infringement. MSTM countersued the former volunteers for copyright fraud. This dispute remains ongoing. The Federal Court Judge presiding over the case will issue an opinion sometime in June 2020. Due to COVID-19, a virtual trial hearing was held where everyone involved was able to testify. When MSTM's leaders and volunteers testified, there was a heavy amount of public interest.

 

MSTM Pain into Power Emblem

This artwork depicts MSTM's story through pictures instead of words. All the way to the left is Pamela Heal who is depicted as "Emm" for the Military. Pamela spent 8 years in the U.S. Navy, with 2 deployments to war zones during her time of service. Janelle Marina Mendez is depicted as "S" for Sexual, her curvaceous body has been a topic of controversy throughout her life and her struggle with her sexuality has been an obstacle she has opened up about publicly. Grace Lungu is depicted as "Ti" for Trauma. She represents the trauma of both the black community from slavery, police brutality, and for servicemembers and veterans who experienced MST. The Power Emblem has many "hidden" meanings that are significant to MSTM and the individuals depicted in this work. See how closely you can analyze this artwork and how many signifiers you can find. 

 

 

Grace Lungu: Superwoman 

Super Power: Intellect 

 

As a first-generation African immigrant, the thought of being a Movement Leader scared the crap out of me and it still does at times. I have yet to publicly tell my story because I just want the trauma to go away. However, the thought of another young female Marine going through what I did is unacceptable. I want to be a voice for those who have stayed silent and are too scared to reach out. This type of trauma just doesn't go away but I could turn the immense hurt and shame into something beautiful by being a leader in this movement. I have a daughter and a son who may want to join someday so I know that what I am doing now is crucial.

 

Janelle Marina Mendez: Captain Puerto Rico 

Super Power: Courage

 

My entire life I was told to hide my curves, to deny my heritage, and to fit in with the white upper-class girls I went to school with. They would tell me I was too curvy to be white, and I looked too ethnic, and other Puerto Rican women would tell me I was too white because of my accent: I sound like a valley girl from the Hudson Valley, New York, and I felt like I never fit in with anyone. Embracing my heritage and my story as an MST survivor is so important, and Yonas did an incredible job of capturing my essence: a bold Captain Puerto Rico embracing my color, my curves, and my strength. My mission as Captain Puerto Rico is to inspire young girls to embrace their bodies and fight for the causes that matter to them. 

 

Pamela Heal: Wonderwoman 

Super Power: Healing 

 

My mother was terrified and amazed by my sass as a child: I would walk up to anyone on the street, at 3 years old, and ask them their name and tell them mine. I would dance and laugh at the drop at the hat: I captivate people. At a young age, I looked like a doll. She was beaming with pride and terrified that I wouldn’t know who was my friend, and who was not. When I picked good people, she would look at my friends in the eye and thank them for being my friend. She was my source of love and forgiveness. I also protected from her from the truth that I was being abused, as I knew her fair heart couldn’t take it. As such, as I filled into the curves of my secret mixed heritage, she urged me to cage my curves and my colorful voice. But what my mother ultimately learned is that there is no caging my spice: I will smile and dance, and I will do it with my wide hips and full lips and bold opinions that stir controversy in people’s chests. But today, after much trauma and self-love management, I have learned to embrace my beauty and the interest of my friends, no matter the risk, no matter their skin tone and background. We are in this together, and we will do it joyfully.

 

 Yonas Tesfai: Super Artist 

Super Power: Creativity 

Oakland-based professional political artist Yonas Tesfai’s Eritrean-American heritage has impassioned his craft to share visual stories of the Black community. As friends and as allies in our dedication to serve the marginalized in America, MSTM stands in solidarity with Yonas’ excellent skills in his delivery of our likeness and message. As such, MSTM is making the commitment to only invest in the creativity of the minority communities as they tell stories through the eyes of people of color as a 2020 initiative under MSTM’s Arts & Culture Program. 

 

Love Me Collection: 

The Love Me Collection is about survivors of Military Sexual Trauma embracing their bodies. These courageous women embody self-love after trauma. These pieces are priceless reminders of what it means to heal after trauma. 

 

 Worship me.

 

My divine feminine energy is soft, yet strong. Never to be caged, but instead to worshipped. Oftentimes people see my body as an object and forget to realize that my body is the vessel that carries my soul. To worship me is to provide the nourishment my soul needs to expand and fulfill its purpose.

 

 

Love me. 

 

Often when men see me, they immediately fall in love with my curves and then they fall in love with my intellect. But to really love me, it’s so much deeper than what meets the eye. Loving me means understanding my disability: even though it doesn’t look like I have one, I live with this every day. To love me is to embrace every part of me.

 

Value me. 

 

I embody more than my curves and my beauty. I embody a lifetime of experiences: of love, of loss, of trials, of triumph, and a great deal of hope for the future. Value my future. You and I can create a wonderful future when you learn to value me.

 

Respect me. 

 

The first way to catch me is to respect my boundaries and rise to my standards. Asking for consent to approach me or touch me is the first standard in which I feel respected.

 

The Love Me Collection has one of a kind art pieces that are available to the highest bidder. 

 

 

Photographer Pseudonym: Purple Ivy

The Hudson Valley-based Latinx Photographer works to capture women expressing their creativity while fighting for their communities. Purple Ivy's work is to capture social justice activists in the Hudson Valley who are making loud and bold statements that provide a voice to marginalized communities by showcasing their leaders.