Artist Impact Statement
My boyfriend of 4 years:
A veteran with severe alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
May 4, 2015, he raped me.
May 14, 2015, a week later, I came home to all my belongings gone.
He took my trust, money, time and love.
What I still had was my body.
Through photography my body was my chosen tool for self-expression. After the assault my narrative shifted to a place to document what I couldn’t verbally express and a safe place to put my body in space; in a place of vulnerability that was my own.
This photograph is part of a series of work titled “Victim Impact Statement”, first beginning after my assault in 2015. This series has become a collection of work with the intent to manifest tangible catharsis and captivate growth. In this series, my intimate and isolated environments are what maintain a safe place for healing.
I look to bring awareness to sexual abuse victims through this visual diary by showing how I cope with my assault. My goal is to help victims of abuse find hope and look towards the light despite being brought down by another’s darkness.
Melanie Barksdale has always been interested in the internal struggle and intimate psychological state within her work. Her work can be divided into chapters. Her collection of work tells a story and represents growth, but also shows the struggles of transitioning into adulthood and growing from negative experiences, such as living with an abusive boyfriend, experiencing sexually assault, and death.
Melanie chooses natural light in her work because she feels it shows a sense of beauty and sincerity. The style she has chosen to work in first came about with the passing of her father in March of 2014 and she was in the beginning stages of living on her own and with her boyfriend at the time because her mom had to relocate. Photography has become her method of coping and means of healing. Her work shows the transition into adulthood while learning to live, cope, and support herself. With the loss of her father came the loss of her family home, which became the main subjects starting her series of work having to show internal struggle and intimate moments. Her work, viewed all together shows a chronologic timeline of her life events, each series can be seen has chapters. Melanie’s photography shows her relationships with not only her family and the people she is close with but with the environment she is in.