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Woman Uses Art To Overcome Domestic Violence

Chynna Lockett

  Art can be a healing force. In Rapid City, one artist has pulled memories from the most painful part of her life and says it will help illuminate the road ahead.

A blacklight illuminates cardboard paper dolls, along with houses and trees painted in florescent colors. Large cardboard objects rotate from the ceiling casting tall shadows on the walls. These pieces of art are lighting  the way for 40 year old Cherrie Asucion.

“I became a victim of domestic violence. That’s why the art came out. And I use the art as my healing process. I was fearful with people. I’m very aware of them because I felt like they’re going to harm me.”

Asucion says she has been the victim of abuse for much of her life. Originally from the Philippines - she moved to South Dakota in 2006. That was a time when she focused on school, education and career.

Credit Chynna Lockett

“When I got here, I’m only 6th grade and then I finished that within 2 years. After that I went to massage school and I finished it. Then I was a nationally certified massage therapist.”

But she says the abuse continued and she found herself sad and alone in an empty home not knowing what to do with her time. That’s when she began to create three-dimensional objects. Asucion saw a cardboard box lying in the corner and got inspired. She shaped the box and poked holes in it, hoping to create something to calm her as she relaxed.

“I said ‘I’m going to have something to see when I’m laying down. I turn the light on, lay down in my bed and as I was watching that spinning from the ceiling, I fell asleep. Peacefully, comfortably. Not fearful anymore.”

Recently, she brought dozens of pieces to the Dahl Fine Arts Center and worked with curators to put together her first exhibit. It includes large three dimensional lanterns that spin from the ceiling casting shadows.

“I created them because as I said, I had no T.V. to watch, I had nothing to see in my house. I had nothing to do when I’m lonely. I put my mind into it.”

She kept creating and filled her house with pieces using whatever materials she had on hand or could recycle. Now, Asucion shares her story along with her art because she wants people to understand how giving into her creative side has helped her.

“The reason why I keep moving and getting up on my is because of the art pieces that I did. Why waste my time for just doing nothing? Why no be creative? That’s what I put my mind to.”

Credit Chynna Lockett

Asucion says every time she picked up a pair of scissors, she forgot about her worries. She wants other victims to discover the power of art for themselves.

“Think about something beautiful and apply it to reality. Do not put ourselves down because there’s nowhere else you’re going to be going but down. There’s a lot of opportunity to grow. Maybe the reason you became part of this life is because you have to share it with the world and that way, people who struggle like you or me will know how to fight for it.”

Asucion eventually wants to raise money to buy an RV, fill it with art and travel the country to share her experiences with others. But for the time being, she says she’s waiting for the next opportunity to come into her life.