GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An ArtPrize artist used her craft to process sexual abuse she experienced as a child.

Memories: Evocations, which can be found at Monroe Community Church during ArtPrize, was created by Linda Litteral. A total of 168 masks — molds of Litteral’s face made with clay — hang from an iron pipe. On the other side of the masks are “children-style drawings,” Litteral explained, that show childhood moments.

Some are hidden using lace curtains, “representing what goes on in homes that people don’t know,” the piece’s description on the ArtPrize website says.

Memories: Evocations by Linda Litteral is displayed at Monroe Community Church for ArtPrize. (September 2022)
Memories: Evocations by Linda Litteral is displayed at Monroe Community Church for ArtPrize. (September 2022)

“Some people have a very difficult time looking at it,” Litteral said.

She hopes to help people examine an uncomfortable topic.

“That’s how I get people to look at the topic, is by making beautiful things,” she said.

The artists and author started working on the piece in conjunction with a book she wrote, “Show and Tell: Art, Healing, Incest.”

“This piece has been in my brain for a few years. During COVID I wrote a book about how incest has affected my life and how art helped me to move beyond the pain,” Litteral said.

The artist said she starting going to therapy in her 30s, around the same time she started doing art. It was her art that first helped her process what happened to her as a child.

“I don’t think I would have ever talked about it until I was able to express it visually. Because I couldn’t talk about it,” she said. “This visual representation of what happened is much easier for me than words.”

For people who have gone through experiences, she hopes they can walk away from the piece with feelings of hope.

“What I want people to see is, that if it happened to you, you’re not alone. There’s a bunch of us out there. And we have your back,” she said. “There’s hope, you can heal.”