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Local artist says DC is censoring her art exhibit on domestic violence

A local artist says the city taking down an art installation is like further silencing domestic violence survivors.

WASHINGTON -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but a local artist tearfully claims the city is trying to silence those survivors.

That artist had a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to take down a provocative art installation that she says sheds light on the issue.

The installation includes several suspended or hanging dolls in the center. It’s provocative. Some of the dolls are naked. One appears to have a cover over its face.

RELATED: Does DC domestic violence art exhibit conjure up images of lynching?

“One of the beautiful survivors used to live in a circus,” said artists Marta Perez Garcia. She says she worked with about 160 domestic violence survivors who made most of the dolls in their image.

The installation is titled, “I’m Gonna Get You … Body, woman, Rupture,” and has been on display at the Reeves Center at 14th and U St., Northwest for about two weeks now. The purpose is to have people view the work and openly discuss the issue.

However the artist says she was told last Friday that she had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to take the dolls down, or the city would do it for her.

Marta Perez Garcia anxiously waited for the 5 p.m. deadline.

RELATED: New exhibit sheds light on domestic violence

It came and passed. Nothing happened, but this didn't leave Perez Garcia any more at ease.

“I really hope not,” said an emotional Garcia Perez. She continued, "...you know, because, how I feel – again and again I say it: Come down here, look at these dolls, hear the story of (these women) … and if you take these down, you’re silencing their voices again.”

Perez Garcia got a $50,000 grant to create the piece and says it’s not supposed to be a beautiful. The topic is Domestic Violence. However the controversy came when someone equated the suspended dolls to a lynching. Someone lodged a complaint.

The DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities responded.

“These faces are real women who have been through domestic violence, most of them. I think when you see it and when you confirm yourself face-to-face, it’s no way you’re going to feel or think any other thing that is not about (women) who have been through domestic violence that take the strength and take the ownership of their body and they, in here, have a voice,” said Perez Garcia.

A DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities Spokesperson had confirmed earlier that the original design called for the dolls to be laid-out on the floor. But Perez Garcia says the Reeves Building is old. There’s leaks and flooding, so she made the request and got the “suspended” design approved.

The artist tells WUSA 9 she made adjustments to the installation after the lynching complaint, but was still told last Friday to take the dolls down.

She refuses to do so.

Perez Garcia says she will not censor the artwork.

How about changing the design?

Perez Garcia says she tried but the city never responded to her request. WUSA 9 reached out twice and could not reach the Commission’s spokesperson on Tuesday.

As of 7 p.m, we’re told the installation was still up.

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