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Old 10-01-2007, 06:58 AM
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Merlion Merlion is offline
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Child-Abuse Survivors' Monument

The sculptor Michael Irving is also a therapist and himself a child-abuse survivor. The pictures below of the monument is from an earlier 2005 online story.

Sculpture is a monumental work of pain

Oct 1, 2007, TORONTO — It's no accident that the massive bronze sculpture outside Michael Irving's house makes you feel small but protected. With gentle curves and open arms, the statue is the antithesis of what it commemorates: young lives ravaged, if not ruined, by hard acts and closed mouths.

It has taken 12 years for Mr. Irving, a Toronto sculptor and therapist, to bring his child-abuse survivors' monument from the drawing board to his driveway on Rhodes Avenue, just off the Little India strip on Gerrard Street East. It will take another year for him to complete its second half and find a permanent public home for both pieces, preferably somewhere downtown.

That's a long haul by any measure, but less so in the context of Mr. Irving's 57 years – most of which he has spent recovering from his own wounds.

“I started being raped and molested when I was an infant,” he said yesterday, standing in the sun outside his home, “and it went on through my teens, with both of my parents.”

There is no ease in hearing someone reveal this, which might explain why no such monument already existed, and why this one has taken so long to produce. That very unease, to Mr. Irving, is a big part of why it needed to be made.

When we hear of child abuse, “we are socially wounded and we wonder what we can do about it,” he said, likening it to the urge to commemorate war dead. “Part of a public memorial is that society acknowledges that it happened and we're doing something about it.” .....

While his effort to make the monument began in earnest in 1995, he conceived the idea five years earlier as he stood weeping, with wife Cheryl beside him, in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A Californian by birth, Mr. Irving lost friends and saw others return from that war badly injured.

At the time, he and Cheryl had already been counselling abuse survivors for several years at their Toronto home. Additionally, Mr. Irving had worked as an artist, sculpting stone into “natalistic” pieces, representative of human development before and around the time of birth – part of his own effort to “rebuild myself as a decent human being,” he said.

He decided, then and there, to build a monument to the children he had counselled for similar trauma.

A few cases in particular haunted him that day, including that of a female client he had treated. As a young girl in the former East York, “her grandmother prostituted her out to get cigarette and booze money,” Mr. Irving said. One day, when the girl came home from the street suffering vaginal bleeding, “her mother beat her for soiling her clothes.”

During his own childhood in San Francisco, he said, he was abused sexually from infancy through adolescence. He said his last experience with his family came at 18, when he stepped in to stop his step-father from beating his mother. Rather than thank him, she sent him packing for showing disrespect.

Stories of similar experiences surfaced during the first years of his monument project as Mr. Irving travelled across Canada, making presentations and enlisting abuse survivors, their relatives and friends to make their own artworks to be incorporated into the final work. Their works, each resembling a large quilt square and containing the contributor's raised hand print, make up most of the monument's 300 squares. ....


Monument to survivors of sex abuse crumbling without funds


Michael Irving's sculpture for child abuse victims involved casting the hands of survivors.

May 19, 2005, For five years, the child abuse Survivors Monument has stood in a donated studio waiting to be cast in bronze. Eighteen-year-old Zachary Irving recently raised the alarm that at the end of May the sculpture created by 300 child abuse survivors and supporters could be sliced up and placed in storage.


Some fear that the monument, conceived by Irving's dad, psychotherapist and sculptor Michael Irving, could go the way of Leonardo's horse, a 24-foot monument for the Duke of Milan.....
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Last edited by Merlion : 10-01-2007 at 07:10 AM.
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