Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Degree Name

MFA (Master of Fine Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Barbuzza, Isabel

First Committee Member

Williams, Rachel

Second Committee Member

Miller, Daniel

Third Committee Member

McGuire, Steve

Fourth Committee Member

Alexander, Meredith


This thesis examines the ways in which my artistic practice is creating a space for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to share, gain catharsis, and spark discussions. As a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, I have often felt there was no space for me to voice the many emotions that come with my experience. After creating and sharing autobiographical work about my story, many women have shared their stories of survival with me. Through these many conversations, I knew that we needed to create a space to share these stories. I have created this space through the To(get)her project.

To(get)her is a collaborative performance and installation in which women from a variety of backgrounds destroy and transform wax guns with kitchen and cosmetic tools such as waffle irons, hair dryers, high-heeled shoes, curling irons, and meat tenderizers. These wax guns act as a metaphor for the violence that happens to many women on a daily basis. One in three women will encounter domestic violence and one in five women will be raped in their lifetimes in the United States. Not only are many of our bodies attacked mentally, physically and sexually, but the government also stakes claims on our bodies. With 138 representatives and 22 senators voting against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and many of those same politicians also voting against stricter gun regulations it is apparent that these politicians do not see it as problematic that women’s bodies are so often targets. Further, in the current political climate it is imperative that people in the United States understand the importance of VAWA, and that it is a necessary bill that will be up for reauthorization in 2018.

There have been six iterations of the To(get)her project. Through these performances, over 75 self-identifying women have been a part of the project, sharing their stories and igniting discussion about violence against women. When women come together, their connections are empowering, fierce, sometimes gentle and always meaningful.


Feminism, Gender-based violence, Performance, Social Practice, Studio Art, Violence Against Women


x, 79 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 76-79).


Copyright © 2017 Jessica Carolyn Pleyel

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