In the early morning of April 5, 2014, a bicyclist found 23-year-old Kimberly Robertson lying in front of the F.M. Smith Recreation Center on Park Boulevard. She had been raped and beaten to death.

Days later, city workers carried on maintaining the street where Robertson was found, without any acknowledgment of her death. This Oakland Local article exposes a disturbing truth about how dismissive we all were, and how dismissive we continue to be, of the violence women are subjected to.

Community organizer and Oakland resident Hazel Streete felt moved to memorialize what had happened just down the road from where she attended Mills College. She reached out to various communities and pulled together a team to create Her Resilience: A Mural for Women Affected by Violence in Oakland.

“I became very aware of the silence that happens when women are hurt,” Streete explains. As director of the project, she anticipates that the mural will engage people in conversation around women’s rights and build solidarity among those who have been hurt.

Calling attention to violence towards women is only one aspect of the mural’s intention. “We also hope to address domestic violence in queer relationships. Some portion will be dedicated to family and what different families look like, what positive relationships between men and women look like,” says Streete.

Oakland hosts a vast array of public art dedicated to influential people and the human experience, but falls short on work created by and for women. Streete says this mural is also about recognizing and crediting Oakland’s female artists.

“Women aren’t commissioned in the same rates as men to do artistic work. Her Resilience is my way of disrupting that economic disparity and forcibly giving women leadership roles in the artistic world.”

Men who want to become involved are welcomed to take a supportive role, but physical construction of the mural is reserved for women.

Oakland-based artist Nicole Gervacio has sketched out the mural, with a team of 10 to 12 female-identifying artists executing its design. Portions of the image will be left blank for community members to fill in as part of a paint-by-numbers design.

Painting kicks off on Valentine’s Day and will continue for three weeks from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Park Community Garden. Women are encouraged to show up, sign in and get to painting.

Her Resilience is currently looking for support through a variety of angles:

For artists: Are you interested in helping compose the mural? You can visit the Facebook page to see Gervacio’s sketches and for more information on becoming part of the core artist team.

For community members: Her Resilience is still looking for stories of inspiration. If you’d like to share your experience of surviving, or honor someone you’ve lost to violence, contact Gabrielle Rae at gabrielletravis@gmail.com. With the family’s permission, portraits of victims will be incorporated into the mural’s content.

For community organizations: The project will be collaborating with other womens’ organizations to put on a festival with the initiation of the mural that will include resources, activities, food, and information available to take with you. Contact Streete at hwheeler@alumnae.mills.edu if you’re interested in partnering.

To donate: Her Resilience is accepting donations through an Indiegogo campaign until January 31st. They need money for painting supplies and to provide stipends to the lead organizers and artists. In-kind donations are also encouraged, and a list of materials can be found here.

International Women’s Day on March 8th will mark the final community paint day, where there will be an official ribbon cutting to celebrate the mural. Come out to support the women in your life who have been victims of violence and help build a more open narrative around the female experience.

About The Author

Simone writes about the currents circulating beneath mainstream, with a focus on non-profit developments and at-risk youth enrichment. Outside of freelancing for Oakland Local, she works in the foster care system of Contra Costa County and nerds out on literary magazines. Simone also spearheads the Community Voices section of OL. Contact her at simonelarson@oaklandlocal.com

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