Rose Sellery guides viewers through her exhibit, titled “Passages,” which focuses on the horrors of relationship abuse. Photo by Sal Ingram

A slipper pieced together by shards of glass, a bloody maternity dress hanging on a mannequin, and the shouts of an abusive husband playing in the background. These are only a few of the details highlighted in Rose Sellery’s exhibition, “Passages,” featured at the Museum of Art and History (MAH) for their Free First Friday on the evening of Oct. 5.

Free First Friday is every first Friday of the month, and this month the MAH organized the event with the Resource Center for Nonviolence’s Project Regeneration. Sellery’s exhibition was one of many contributions to the event that evening.

“Passages” tells the story about a girl, Lucille, who grows up with the dream of a man whisking her away into the perfect marriage and the Cinderella-like fairytales that she longs for.

Sellery guided the audience through the room as she narrated the story and displayed articles that represented different aspects of the abusive relationships that many people go through.

“It generally takes seven attempts to leave,” Sellery said. “Not seven beatings, but seven attempts to leave. This is not my story, but it is a lot of people’s story.”

Her idea for the exhibition came from a video she was making about relationship abuse.

“I created a story based off of that,” Sellery said. “How did [Lucille] start off that led her here? Where does she end up when she leaves? And how does this story end?”

Santa Cruz’s MAH held their monthly Free First Friday with several different exhibitions and activities surrounding around topics of nonviolence and conflict, including “Passages,” interactive art, the Pop Up Museum and live music.

Project Regeneration, which aims toward increasing art and activism in youth, hosted the interactive art activities that displayed nonviolence, such as making peace flags, partaking in a post-it note mural, and discussing issues around violence.

Irene O’Connell, an intern at the Resource Center for Nonviolence and UC Santa Cruz alumna, works with Project Regeneration to find empowerment for the youth through the arts. She talked about the importance of having a political and personal voice.

“We were realizing that there wasn’t enough youth participation in local politics,” she said. “Essentially what it is seeking to do is build a community collected of youth that’s finding empowerment through the arts, music, poetry, do it yourself activities and the creative processes.”

Project Regeneration has other events for the community to attend, such as an open mic every last friday of the month at the Resource Center for Nonviolence. The community can also attend trainings in nonviolence, four two-hour sessions where participants can learn about how the individual reacts to violence, look at different types of violence, and strategize how to take on issues nonviolently.

O’Connell hopes Free First Friday will allow people to learn more about Project Regeneration and the Resource Center for Nonviolence.

“It’s a great chance for the resource center to present ourselves to the public and maybe to a population we don’t normally get to connect with, so it’s exciting,” she said.

The MAH also created the Pop Up Museum, displaying objects interns and community members brought in that fell into the category of “Objects of Conflict.”

Nora Grant, the Pop Up Museum Coordinator, said it was interesting that normal, everyday objects can be a piece that stands for conflict.

“There was diversity of the objects that people brought. Some of them were pretty ordinary,” she said. “One guy brought a bottle of water and he started to talk about water shortage and conservation and desalination. You realize this object becomes a symbol for a bigger conversation.”

The Pop Up Museum, which will be a continuing event at the MAH, is going to create new topics that will keep allowing the community to express themselves by the objects they bring and display.

“I think it’s wonderful you can get these fascinating stories from really common objects and that the pop-up museum allows anybody to participate in this kind of event,” Grant said. “It’s really unique because we all have neat stuff but we don’t get to show them in a museum.”


For more information, you can visit the MAH’s website at and the Resource Center for Nonviolence’s website at