From Sally Penley, "Out of The Silence" Project Lead
This project was born in late January, 2012, when I attended
a PFLAG-sponsored event in Olympia, WA.
The concert featured The Righteous Mothers and Steve Schalchlin, a New
York-based singer/songwriter. I was so
moved by Steve’s lyrics about his own life experience, The Righteous Mother’s
messages, the plight of gay youth and, more specifically, the issue of teen
suicide, that I decided on the spot to figure out some way to help end this tragic epidemic. What could I do to add my voice to this
cause? I knew I couldn’t be silent.
After the concert, I approached Steve and told him I’d like
to put together an art exhibit featuring his lyrics and some meaningful quotes
by gay youth, translated into powerful visual art. He liked the idea and contacted me a few weeks
later, suggesting that I meet with Gabi and Alec Clayton, parents of
17-year-old Bill Clayton who committed suicide after a gay bashing in 1995. Gabi and Alec were very receptive, gave their
blessing to the concept and offered to help guide the effort as we move
The “Out of The
Silence” exhibit will be comprised of about 30 - 50 pieces of calligraphic fine art
created by some of the world’s best calligraphers. Content and inspiration for the art will be
based on Steve Schalchlin’s song lyrics, impactful quotes by some of the young
people we’ve lost to suicide, and quotes from other LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender)
youth. All quotes will be attributable--no "anonymous."
Artists will be selected at the upcoming International
Calligraphy Conference, which will take place in Portland, OR, in late
June. The art will be created during the
remainder of 2012 and “Out of The
Silence” will open in Olympia, WA, in early 2013.
Support – Educate – Advocate. Build awareness. Move people to action!
The main purpose of the exhibit will be to deliver a message
of hope—hope for a better future that celebrates diversity and equal rights for
everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Some of the messages may seem negative on the
surface, but the intention is to raise awareness about the issues of bullying, teen suicide and gay rights. People
leaving the exhibit should feel moved to action and want to continue the
dialogue about the plight of these young people.
Additionally, the exhibit should send a clear message to LGBT youth that they are not alone. When they
see these messages, many of which probably reflect their own thoughts and
feelings, they should feel a sense of hope and purpose. They will see that they are part of a larger
inclusive community and that they are accepted for who/what they are. They will know someone cares.
Thus, the target audience for this exhibit is two-fold: the general public, especially the “fence
sitters” who haven’t been close enough to the issues to understand or be impacted
by them; and the young LGBT population about whom the show is designed to support.
The Project Team:
Sally Penley: Overall
Project Lead; www.sallypenley.com
Jaki Svaren: Calligraphy Sage; link to calligraphy network
Gabi & Alec
Clayton: Project Guides, links to local and national organizations; www.gabiclayton.com and www.alecclayton.com
Extraordinaire; assistance with quote/lyrics selection; www.bonusround.com
And finally, here is the story of Bill Clayton, who took his life after a gay bashing at the age of 17, written by his mother, Gabi: http://www.youth-guard.org/gabi/Bills_Story.html It was Bill's story that brought us all together and inspired us to create this project.
Here's Steve Schalchlin playing "Gabi's Song," which he wrote as part of "New World Waking" and performed on John Lennon's Imagine piano. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jpJ4IBit90
An added note: If this project is fully funded and funding permits, the "Out of The Silence" exhibit may travel to other locations when it closes in Olympia.
We would REALLY appreciate your help in kickstarting our project and making this show happen. From our hearts---Gabi, Alec, Steve, Jaki and I thank you.