ABOUT : An Empty Place at the Table

October 7, 2005
Candlelight Vigil honoring victims and survivors of domestic violence
6:00 PM at the ywca of northcentral pa, Fourth Street, Williamsport
Art Exhibition Opening from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Performance begins at 7:00 PM
Thomas T. Taber Museum, 858 West Fourth Street

About: An Empty Place at the Table

In 2004, 110 men, women and children were murdered in Pennsylvania in acts of domestic violence. And in the past year, the deaths of three women in Lycoming County brought the problem of domestic violence in the county to the forefront. The purpose of An Empty Place at the Table is to honor the lives of the eight women, two children and a man who were murdered in acts of domestic violence in the Williamsport area in the past ten years, and to increase public understanding of the impact of domestic and sexual violence on families and the community.

An Empty Place at the Table features a table set for eleven in the center of the gallery. Each of the eleven white plates bears the name, date of birth, and date of death of one victim.  The white tablecloth is covered with small text, hand-written in silver, so that from a distance it just looks like a brocade tablecloth, but the text becomes visible when visitors approach the table.  The text tells the personal stories of local women who have experienced domestic violence. Some survivors wrote their own stories directly on the tablecloth. Volunteers transferred other stories from text provided by survivors or friends and relatives of victims.

In addition to the table itself, the exhibit features original works of art on the theme of domestic violence by 17 local women artists: Tulu Bayar, Luana Cleveland, Lynn Estomin, Amanda Eisner, Gail Jones, Laura Kittle, Ricki Maietta, Andrea McDonough, Mary McMinn, Lisa Mody McNerney, Camille Orelli, Deb Parsons, Kim Rhone, Catherine Rios, Kristina Snook-Kohr, Theresa Crowley Spitler, and Paula Swett. The works of art can be purchased from the artists, with a portion of the proceeds going to Wise Options. Also featured are collages celebrating the lives of the local victims incorporating photographs, letters and memorabilia provided by family members and friends of each victim.

An Empty Place at the Table opened October 7, 2005, with a reception from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Thomas T. Taber Museum, 858 West Fourth Street, Williamsport. Opening remarks by Judge Kenneth Brown were followed by special performances by electric violinist Ritsu Katsumata, poets Beatrice Gamble, Rebecca Kinzie-Bastian and Laura Kittle, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church Women’s Choir. The exhibition remains at the museum until November 19, 2005. In conjunction with the exhibition, a series of original domestic violence prevention posters are on display at Rock Station music store and in downtown store windows during October for Domestic Violence Prevention Month.

An Empty Place at the Table was inspired by an exhibit by the women’s shelter in Scranton. The Advisory Committee of the ywca of northcentral pa’s Wise Options program decided to collaborate with the Thomas T. Taber Museum and designer Lynn Estomin to create an exhibit honoring local victims. Since the project started, it has forged new alliances in the community.  Members of the Lycoming College sorority APO, Wise Options staff, local historians, and volunteers researched, gathered and transcribed stories. Twenty professional artists produced original paintings, drawings, sculpture, fiber art, glass art, music and poetry for the project.  The students in Estomin’s Commercial Design classes created collages commemorating the victims’ lives and domestic violence prevention posters. Numerous community businesses donated services. The exhibition and performances were designed to unite people from different walks of life in finding solutions to a growing problem in our community.     

For more information about An Empty Place at the Table contact Sandra Rife, Director the Thomas T. Taber Museum, 570-326-3326, lchsmuseum@chilitech.net or Lynn Estomin, estomin@lycoming.edu.



Taber Museum • Williamsport Pennsylvania • October 7 - November 19, 2005