YWCA Canada is focusing on tech-facilitated violence this year and centring the needs, experiences, and wisdom of survivors in the efforts to act against online hate, abuse and harassment and its far-reaching impact on women and gender-diverse people’s safety, well-being and freedom.
As part of the Week Without Violence, YWCA Canada commissioned artists to create and illustrate a world free from online hate and explore the concept of #heartspeech, countering online hate using positive messages.
The artwork presented here by the artist Selina Ashi captures the theme of using technology positively to counter online hate and violence. Her artist’s statement on the piece:
“I made the artwork to capture the theme of using technology positively to counter online hate and violence. In the foreground, there are several people physically separated, as shown by different coloured backgrounds and shapes. The backgrounds are shaped as speech bubbles and puzzle pieces to symbolize how although physically we are in separate places, the online world can positively connect us together. I want to send the message that these connections can oftentimes be subtle and unexpected, but they strongly unite us.
Additionally, I want to show how individuals can provide support through the online space. All the figures in the artwork are surrounded by different technology and support one another. They are giving side hugs, holding up an umbrella together, or holding a megaphone together to show that we are stronger together and our voices are amplified.
For the colour scheme, I used bold and vibrant colours to represent how we should not shy away from talking about online hate speech and to bring its importance to the spotlight.
I hope that the artwork will open up dialogues about different ways to counter online violence and to inspire the audience to make changes to stand up against hate speech online.”
Selina’s artwork shows us that Online platforms can be a safe place if we decide to use them as spaces to facilitate connections between people to build communities and provide support particularly. It is possible to transform spaces together and make changes, but we need to stand up against online hate and promote dialogues about different ways to counter online violence.