She called her painting, a vision of a woman fleeing a cage, Freedom. Three months after being rescued from human trafficking, she still felt anything but free.

“I had drawn a woman in a white dress, signifying purity, floating up from a cage. At the bottom of the cage were black-and-white photos of syringes and very unhappy people crying and sad. She was going upwards, headed toward an array of different humans, colorful and smiling and happy.”

The survivor, who requested anonymity to preserve her safety, had joined other survivors for an artists’ workshop in 2019 at the now-closed Psychedelic Robot Immersive Art Experience at the Crescent.

With the help of the artists, she started to paint.

“The coolest part was being able to take my story, take this part of me that had been shut off, the creative part, and turn it back on. When I was in ‘the

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A new photography project gives us a glimpse of the complex healing journey of sexual assault survivors.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but for Eric Paull, some of those words can represent harrowing memories.

“Five, six years old, the abuse started,” Paull said.

Paull was abused at a young age and turned to the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville later in life to help start his healing journey through its programs and counseling.

“The first step is awareness,” Paull said. “It’s hard for people to talk about it, and that’s why it’s hard for them to do the work because it involves a lot.”

It’s that work Paull, and fellow survivors are hoping to inspire others to begin through documentary photographer Dan Heller’s new project.

“People don’t want to be constantly defined by that one event in their lives,” Heller said. “They are

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Some are overlaid with text, some are black and white. Many are self-portraits of the artist, 16-year-old Rachel Galvan, with various effects or distortions applied, meant to offer a glimpse into her struggles with mental illness.

Accompanying the images are Galvan’s artist statements about her photography journey, mental health, and healing, with affirmations for anyone who might be struggling.

ALSO READ: Asked and Answered: Alexis Zaccariello never wanted to be a teacher

A rising junior at the Rochester Alternative Learning Center, Galvan uses photography to explore her own experiences and spread awareness about issues that are important to her.

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In addition to her images in the skyway, another project on chemical dependency is on display at ALC.

A photo from Rachel Galvan's project about mental health, currently on display in the skyway near the Hilton Doubletree. (Contributed photo / Rachel Galvan)

A photo from Rachel Galvan’s project about mental health, currently on display in the skyway near the Hilton Doubletree. (Contributed photo / Rachel Galvan)

Galvan said the goal of her work is to

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“…I tried to find ways to cope with heartbreak and trauma,” Toronto-based photographer Hao Nguyen tells us. Hao is the winner for the healing category for the 2021 All Out Photography Awards. “Since it was difficult to express it on my own, I wanted to visualize healing through others…” The 2021 All Out Photography Awards offered a platform for photographers to express the issues confronted by the LGBTQ community. Just shy of 2,000 images were summited, and a range of industry experts selected the best of the bunch. Hao Nguyen is a Chinese-Vietnamese photographer. His take on the subject matter offered a sense of unity and came with a dose of creativity that any artist can enjoy. We caught up with Nguyen to see how life has been since receiving this fantastic recognition for his work.

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