Idea: Oil paintings of trafficking survivors and stories of their journeys of resilience and healing.
Primary artistic medium: 2D visual arts
Natasha Zeta is a Philadelphia-based painter and mixed media artist who creates interactive portraiture with broken mirrors. She uses the mirror as a tool to engage viewers, allowing them to literally and metaphorically step into another perspective. Her work challenges viewers to empathize with her subjects and practice being kinder to themselves.
Each piece alludes to being part of a larger, imperfect mosaic of community and invites the viewer to see themselves as part of the work. This instigates a dialogue on how we can glimpse into a life outside our own and see a part of ourselves; how we can connect with others and hold space for their experiences.
Zeta seeks to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health – not only by creating a platform for her subjects to share their own stories, but also to share each subject’s positive realizations on ways they can heal and grow.
Point of Entry
Point of Entry (pointofentry.net) is an ongoing project that has been exhibited online and in person. The virtual collection of stories are from subjects of marginalized or intersectional identities including but not limited to LGBTQIA+, immigrant, and BIPOC voices.
Point of Entry focuses on how participants overcome adversity, defy societal expectations, and engage in healing from trauma. The narratives are anchored in participants’ unique expression and perspective which reflect their intersecting experiences of oppression and resilience.
In person, the project has the interactive element of the mirror. Viewers catch glimpses of themselves and sparkles of light within each scar, adding dimension to their experience.
Zeta has exhibited nationally including a solo exhibition at the University of the Arts and, pending funding, a solo exhibition at Wanderlife Gallery in Philadelphia. She has also participated in group exhibitions at the Barnes Foundation and the New York Artists Equity Association, Inc., among others.. Her work has received honorable mentions in group exhibitions by nyc4pa, the Art League of the Chathams, and the Country College of Morris. Zeta has a permanent mural installed in Chatham, New Jersey.
Zeta graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh.
Point of Entry has been previously exhibited at the Garrison Art Center (Garrison, NY), Media Arts Council (Media, PA), the University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA), and online at Localize Philly, Blue Fifth Notebook, and Scarred City Project. Zeta has exhibited in Wanderlife Gallery three times for the exhibitions Place, natural FORMS, and Quarantine.
A Point of Entry solo exhibition slated for 2020 was canceled due to the Pandemic.
Point of Entry is a series of oil paintings depicting people and their scars. Painted on mirror fragments, each work contains a carved line defining the incision of the scar, allowing viewers to see themselves reflected within. Accompanying texts tell the story of the scar and its bearer. Based on interviews with the subjects represented, the texts tell viewers how people were able to overcome adversity and heal from trauma.
Point of Entry seeks to amplify narratives from marginalized communities that disproportionately experience mental illness, but whose stories are vastly underrepresented in our conversations about mental health. In light of this mission, the project is collaborating with Safe Horizon, a non-profit organization that provides services to victims of crimes. Since 2001, the Anti-Trafficking Program (ATP) has provided trauma-informed intensive case management, psychotherapy, and legal assistance to trafficking survivors. Furthermore, ATP works on the national level to inform policy that protects survivors, and prevents and prosecutes trafficking crimes.
ATP will register participants for the project and licensed social worker Heidi Chiu will provide Zeta with additional support as needed.
This application requests funding for an exhibition featuring Point of Entry paintings and stories of how people heal. The exhibition will be held at Wanderlife Gallery in South Philadelphia in November 2022. The exhibition features an opening reception-symposium that offers educational opportunities for the public via panel discussions by creative therapists, legal providers, and interested survivor panelist(s) from Safe Horizon and other community organizations. This event endeavors to raise awareness of macro-, meso- and micro- approaches to trauma-informed care and creative healing through the arts.
This project creates space for trafficking survivors who experience scars, both physical and psychological, and opportunities to foster restoration. Invisible scars that manifest somatically – i.e. harm to the voice represented by a painting of the mouth – will also be represented.
Survivors’ journeys of resilience often go unrecognized or unseen. Popular media has the propensity to sensationalize victimization. This project aims to raise awareness of resources, highlight survivors’ stories beyond victimization and shines a light on how people heal.
The exhibition is public. We particularly focus our outreach on vulnerable immigrant communities in Philadelphia. Immigrants face unique risk factors of trafficking due to their temporary or lack of work authorization. Traffickers manipulate the transience of migration that is enforced by US policies, as well as the aspirations embedded in migration, including socioeconomic mobility, familial duty, love, and hope for a better life. For these reasons we have partnered with a gallery based in South Philadelphia, a haven for immigrants and refugees and the base for many community-based organizations.
Enacting principles of trauma-informed care including choice and collaboration, participants will actively engage in the design of their part of the exhibit. Butterflies painted by participants, representing the unique resiliencies that subjects embody and experience, will appear among the oil paintings throughout the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition can create their own butterflies, adding to the colorful mural representing the many colors of our experiences and the power of communal healing.