Breaking The Silence

We have worn masks for as long as we have been a human species. We have worn them as disguises and distractions, for protection or to make a statement. Our ancestors made them of wood and bone and shells and clay. In our contemporary culture, however, we tend to wear more subtle masks – ones of flesh and psyche. Many of these masks have been created in response to abusive power. Often we are not even aware that we are wearing them.

These pieces are original, brainy and have deeply insightful messages to convey.
— Anne B. Zill. Director of University of New England Art Gallery. Portland, Maine.
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There is an art to discovering habitual, “invisible” modern masks. There is an art to appropriating and transforming their energy to a new purpose.

This is what Breaking the Silence is all about. The exhibit (consisting of over 80 pieces of art) has toured for 10 years to make visible a whole range of visceral emotions in response to the abuse of power.

The collection of raku masks and paintings has received international acclaim. Originated to promote awareness of child sexual abuse, it has evolved, in response to viewers’ and therapists’ requests, into international workshops on healing through creativity. Katheryn is currently working on completing a Breaking the Silence book to bring the power of the exhibit images and the healing wisdom of creativity together between two covers.

We are immersed in a culture in need of healing from abusive power, in need of images that speak what we feel. Breaking the Silence presents these images, and offers itself as a catalyst for healing.


The first Breaking the Silence exhibition had a dramatic impact on both the media and the public in the early ’90’s and for the next 15 years toured throughout the United States and Europe. 

There were exhibits with lectures in San Francisco, California; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Three Rivers, Michigan; San Diego, California; Kansas City, Missouri; South Haven, Michigan; The United Nations, New York, New York, USA; and The Hague and Leiden, The Netherlands.


Masks from Breaking the Silence was shown in Progress of the World’s Women, an international exhibition that featured seventy artists from more than fifty countries that was shown in the visitors’ lobby of the United Nations in June of 2000. The exhibit opened at the start of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which reviewed progress achieved in gender equality. The exhibition presented a collective statement in bold artistic terms of the power of women at the opening of a new millennium. The exhibition—a collection of works of art across many cultures, mediums and materials—aimed to expand contemporary understanding of the world and inspire our imaginations to envision a future world where the promises of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women had been fulfilled.