Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shoe Display to Remember Sex Assault Victims in Minnesota

A display being designed in northern St. Louis County will include 2,121 pairs of shoes to represent victims of sexual assault.

Artist Jill Aubin said 707 pairs of shoes will be displayed on a cross, with the rest being incorporated around the base of the piece. Visitors will get a chance to write a prayer or wish to be attached to a tree in the exhibit, Aubin said.

The Sexual Assault Program of Northern St. Louis County served 707 victims of sexual abuse in 2006, and the rest of the shoes represent the estimated number of victims who never sought help, Aubin said.

The display will be shown April 1-15 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Mountain Iron before traveling to Crookston and then Brainerd for a statewide conference, Aubin said.

Aubin hopes the exhibit will travel throughout the state and beyond before it is dismantled and the shoes are sent to an orphanage and group that assists sexually abused women in Honduras. Larger shoes will be sent to a U.S.-based organization called Soles4Souls.

"It's an important message to put out there" about the prevalence of sexual assault, Aubin said.
Organizers have collected about 500 pairs of shoes so far and are encouraging members of the community to donate more.

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