DURHAM — In 2015, artist, poet and songwriter Monica Nagle wrote a book containing her poem, “If You Had Heard My Voice,” and found the inspiration for her Mother’s Day Freedom Project to vocalize the importance of healing after trauma from sexual violence, assault and mental health based on her own life experiences.

Artist Stephen C. Shaw, the retired director of administrative rules for New Hampshire, took Nagle’s poem and created a painting for each line accompanied by a commentary, describing why he chose the painting’s subject matter to express how violence affects people in communities.

Aside from Nagle’s work as an artist and poet, she is a sexual assault survivor and now peace advocate on a mission to honor those who help vulnerable populations hurt by domestic violence and trauma through her creative and spiritual forms of healing.

Right from Nagle’s Whispering Woods Studio in Dover, Shaw’s paintings will be on display in The Mother’s Day Freedom Project: Voices of a Missing Dream gallery show at the University of New Hampshire’s Dimond Library Monday, Oct. 14, and then at the offices of the university’s Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) for the rest of the week.

SHARPP provides free, confidential advocacy and direct services to all survivors and their allies; and by offering awareness and prevention programs to the community through education, outreach and training.

During the gallery show, 20% of any sales of Nagle’s and Shaw’s books, art prints and music will directly benefit SHARPP to help with its mission.

Nagle and Shaw will be in the Dimond Library on Monday evening with more original artwork to view and purchase.

The incentive for her project, the poem “If You Had Heart My Voice,” is Nagle’s last endeavor in a three-book series. Each book is a collection of poetry, art, lyrics and prose meant to inspire and heal. The second book is titled “The Tracks,” which has a focus on the problem of homelessness. The third book is titled “Mothers and Daughters.”

“I’m hoping this will inspire other people,” said Nagle. “It’s a healing project, so it’s all about empowerment of women. Although, I don’t care if you’re a woman or man, anyone who’s going through violence will be impacted by this.”

Now nearly 40 years after becoming a victim of sexual assault herself, Nagle has set the goal for her project to award a custom-framed, signed copy of “If You Had Heard My Voice” to every one of the police stations, first responder’s offices, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters and recovery centers in New Hampshire. She is seeking sponsors to help fund the installations. The cost to sponsor a location is $100.

“I want to show my honor and respect to the people that helped me when I went through a traumatic, violent experience: a crime that I was a victim of,” said Nagle. “I decided that I wanted to find a way to give back.” Her wants to highlight the organizations which have heard the call of the voices of those affected by any kind of violence.

She said her story is a healing and validating survivor’s poem that speaks to children, victims and perpetrators of violence. “It honors the strength and capacity to heal, moving beyond pain and survival into the freedom of forgiveness, love and compassion.”

According to Nagle, there are 238 police stations in New Hampshire. “We’re hoping that by getting everyone, we’ll get the word out there,” she said. “We hope to get more sponsorship and continue the project until we have our target date of Mother’s Day 2020.”

Nagle has also been asked by several community leaders to include courthouses, county attorney offices, child advocacy centers and food pantries. The list keeps expanding.

Nagle is planning to publish a Mother’s Day Freedom Project book next year.

“I feel like God will find you no matter where you are,” she said. “True healing is possible. I want to say that I’m not surviving, I’m thriving.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.
Allow up to 24 hours for comment approval.