Open Call to Area Artists for Exhibit Honoring Victims of Domestic Violence

Bridget Darst Friday

“Behind Closed Doors” is an upcoming art exhibit which will feature the creative works of those whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence. Local amateur and professional artists are being called to participate in this exhibit, which will be part of Family Shelter’s yearlong celebration of their 35th year of service.

Even in the family-friendly environment of the suburbs of DuPage County, away from the frenzied pace of the big city, domestic violence continues to be a persistent social issue that compromises the safety and welfare of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

In celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, Family Shelter Service, a local domestic violence shelter and counseling program, wants to step-up awareness of this serious issue in our community through art – specifically, an upcoming traveling art exhibit entitled “Behind Closed Doors”.

The agency is making an open call to area artists – both amateur and professional – who have been directly or indirectly impacted by domestic violence to donate their original artwork to this unique exhibit. Fifteen to 20 pieces of art will be selected for the exhibit from artists as young as 14 years of age, with prizes of $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $125 for third. To learn more about how to enter, visit Family Shelter’s website at or call them at 630-221-8290.

Family Shelter is hoping that the “Behind Closed Doors” exhibit will help attendees to realize not only the importance of supporting domestic violence prevention and care in our community, but also to experience the healing power that sharing their emotions unleashes. While some artists might choose to share the sorrow, pain and frustration of living with abuse, others might choose to share the joy, peace and elations of healing and gaining freedom.

“Art has long been utilized in therapy as a mechanism for persons in crisis to work through their emotions and actually access feelings that they are unable to verbalize,” explains Family Shelter’s Executive Director, Karen Hurley Kuchar. “Creating art becomes their mode of communication – a way of switching the light on in a very dark place. Once persons impacted by domestic violence can begin to identify and share what they are feeling, the door is open for healing to begin.”

The “Behind Closed Doors” moniker was selected by the exhibit committee because it symbolizes the reaction many people have to talking about domestic violence. It is an uncomfortable topic to discuss and, because episodes of abuse generally occur in victims’ homes or out of public view, it is all too often perceived as a personal issue that is best left behind closed doors.

“Domestic violence not only impacts the life of the victim, but also those who witness or know of the violence through interaction with the victim. We feel that “bystanders” and support persons also have an important perspective to share, which is why we opened the exhibit up to include their artwork,” continues Ms. Kuchar. “Almost everyone knows of someone whose life has been compromised by domestic violence. Therefore, everyone should be thinking and talking about how to end domestic violence in their community – and, especially, how to help those who are currently experiencing it.”

Family Shelter Service has been helping women and children begin again for 35 years. By providing emergency shelter, intermediate housing and trauma-informed counseling, they assist victims in rebuilding their lives in safety and wellness. Last year alone, the agency provided 11,459 nights of shelter to adults and children, answered 5,502 calls through the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, and assisted 830 victims with Orders of Protection. Through prevention and training programs, Family Shelter also teaches professionals and individuals how to recognize abusive behaviors and promote healthy personal interactions in families and personal relationships.