Images are never neutral. They hold the potential to both exert power and act as instruments of power and can sustain and legitimate ideological violence. hooks (1995, p.3) describes representation as “a crucial location of struggle for any exploited and oppressed people asserting subjectivity and decolonisation of the mind”.
In 2012, as part of her Masters in Maori Visual Art, Karen McIntyre produced a series of paintings which represented the 13 years of intimate partner violence she had experienced. This exhibition led to the development of WAI – the Women’s Art Initiative in Palmerston North, Aotearoa (New Zealand) in 2013. WAI is a collective focused on ‘art-making’ (rather than ‘art therapy’) to self-represent women’s experiences of violence. Response Based Practice informs the approach to this collective, now in its fourth year. Karen continues to facilitate WAI and is currently in the process of setting up two further WAI collectives as part of her PhD in creative arts. She is a team member of Tu Mai Awa.