Exhibit Explores ‘Trauma’ Theme

show card for A Ladder Without Rungs: Exploring Metaphors of Trauma

It’s an inside look at the effects of traumatic experiences through the eyes of crime victims and life-sentenced prisoners.

“A Ladder Without Rungs,” an exhibit opening Sunday, Nov. 6, in the Hartzler Library gallery at Eastern Mennonite University, features photos, paintings and prose by Howard Zehr, Judah Oudshoorn and Manas Ghanem of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at EMU.

The display will open with a reception for the artists 2:30-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, in the gallery.

Dr. Zehr is co-director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and professor of restorative justice at EMU. Judah Oudshoorn and Manas Ghanem are both students in the MA in conflict transformation program at EMU. Oudshoorn is a Canadian who is currently doing his practicum in Ontario, and Ghanem is a human rights lawyer and Fulbright scholar from Syria.

Zehr has written “Doing Life: Reflections of Men and Women Doing Life Sentences” (1996), which is based on about 75 interviews with people sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Another book, “Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims” (2001), is based on interviews with some 50 people who experienced violent crimes. Both include black and white portraits of the interviewees and are published by Good Books.

The project originated when Oudshoorn and Ghanem did paintings to explore metaphors of trauma used by victims in the book “Transcending.” This project was exhibited in a number of settings, on some occasions accompanied by a meditation based on victims’ stories that Zehr often uses for STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) workshops. Positive responses to these presentations encouraged them to develop the project further.

Originally the presentation only represented victims’ perspectives and experiences. This exhibit brings together both victim and offenders perspectives by exploring metaphors used by victims and lifers to describe their thought processes and how they deal with their own trauma.

Through this exhibit, Zehr hopes that “others will gain a better understanding of victims and offenders and what they experience and will be able to connect in some way.

“This exhibit depicts what CJP is all about – working in and training persons to be well-equipped practitioners in conflict transformation, restorative justice and trauma healing,” Zehr said.

The exhibit, on third floor of EMU’s Hartzler Library, will be open daily during regular library hours through Dec. 9. Admission is free.

Hartzler Library (and art gallery) operating hours:
Mon.-Thur. 7:45 a.m.-11 p.m.
Fri. 7:45 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Sun. 2 p.m.- 11 p.m.