Artist’s Namenicolena loshonkohl
Address4819 Delray St NW
Roanoke 24012
United States
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Instagram Handle (if any)Busted.possum.threads
Website (if any)
Tell us about you, the artist. Please include a few sentences of biographical information.

Lena Loshonkohl is an embroidery/mixed media illustration artist residing in Roanoke, VA. Originally from Pittsburgh, she graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in studio art and art history with a focus in painting and printmaking. Lena switched mediums when she was pregnant with her daughter to avoid contact with chemicals and moved into embroidery and fiber art. Today, Lena uses a mixture of embroidery, paint and gold leaf to achieve texture and depth in her illustrative work. As a single mom who lived through both childhood abuse and domestic violence, Lena uses the imaginative world both as an escape and a way of drawing attention to financial disparity, parenting, and weird and wonderful elements of the natural world.

Please describe your artistic practice including the media you work in and your approach to your art.

I use embroidery as a form of storytelling and escape. My type of embroidery differs quite a bit from traditional cross stitch and is hand stitched into fabric on top of a drawing. I use thread, paint and gold leaf to create depth and texture.

Describe the proposed work or project.

I’m a survivor of domestic violence. I fled my situation with little to no resources and had to rely on friends to help me not only find my way out but also remain safe. It was a frightening, isolating experience and while I was able to rely on some of the services from TAP and Roanoke Legal Aid Society, I was mostly alone.

I work in a salon full time. This is my main source of income, which I use to provide for my daughter and myself. I have some domestic violence training, and provide resources to my clients from behind the chair. It has become clear to me that we don’t have enough. I believe that the Roanoke community can come together to solve for the issues around safety, finding community, and financial resources. These are the three biggest factors that come into play when a person is deciding whether or not they can leave. For example, the risk of death by homicide for the first 90 days after leaving increases by 70 percent. No one is more keenly aware of this fact than the person getting ready to flee.

My idea is this: to host a series of four to six workshops teaching embroidery to survivors who are leaving or are preparing to leave alongside community leaders and partners from each of the neighborhoods involved in the Roanoke Arts Commission. At the end of the workshop I would like to have a public exhibition featuring the work made by survivors (with the option of keeping the survivors’ anonymity intact for safety purposes), with an option for viewers to purchase art or donate money that will go directly to survivors to assist with housing costs. Because financial abuse is such a big part of domestic violence, many survivors leave with little to no resources. They need sustainable, affordable, safe housing, money for legal fees and childcare to name a few. This program could both provide at least a little bit of hope and financial help.

As part of this project, my goals are to address immediate needs and to create a long term program that is sustainable. By partnering with community leaders across Roanoke and TAP, we could also provide domestic violence training to our community-allowing each person who is interested the ability to see the signs of domestic violence and knowledge in how to respond. I’d also would like to collaborate with TAP to educate our community on the more subtle signs of domestic violence within a relationship and be able to build a tribe so that leaving is easier. My hope would be to see the program continue and evolve year to year, and that our various neighborhoods would take this project and make it their own.

Women in our community are drowning in violence. I do believe the issues of affordable housing, safety, and isolation can be addressed and resolved head on by Roanoke.

How will the work advance wellness, justice, or inclusion in Roanoke? Consider a community issue that you hope to address, something you want to celebrate or a condition you want to change.

I wrote extensively about this in the previous entry. I want to help those in our community who are suffering from domestic violence find their way out and find the resources they need to do so, with the help of our community leaders.

When do you anticipate undertaking the work? If the project is tied to a set event or date, let us know.

I would like the six week workshops to begin in the summertime, to lead up to an exhibition in the municipal building in October of 2024, for domestic violence awareness month.

Are there partners in this effort? If so describe the partnerships and what each partner brings.

I would like to partner with TAP, Sabrina’s Place, Roanoke Legal Aid, the community leaders involved with the Roanoke Arts Commission from each neighborhood and hopefully a handful of mental health professionals through the city who offer low cost to free services. Because it takes a tribe to assist each person who’s fleeing domestic violence, I think each of these partners could provide resources in legal aid, mental health, safe housing and finding roots in our community. I would also reach out to a number of galleries in Roanoke who could join us in lifting up and celebrating those who found a way out.

TAP would be the biggest resource for the domestic violence training portion of the project.

Your theory of change: How will the work advance your efforts as an artist toward an established goal? How will you, a partner organization, or the community be changed?

I know that it is possible to leave an impossible situation because I did so myself. Because resources were so thin, the process of leaving, establishing custody, finding a home left me with a tremendous amount of trauma compounded with the trauma of years of intimate partner violence. In order to leave, I grappled alone with my own mortality. To me, this is a preventable and solvable problem, but we need our community to help with the solutions.

If we can provide financial resources to women fleeing, we can then provide financial literacy and job training, which will allow them to stand on their own two feet and establish a safe and healthy life. If we can provide mental health resources we promote the healing of our community, it is not uncommon for women who leave and never go back to start helping others. The simple act of our neighborhoods coming together to help prevent or stop violence with only bring us closer and make us stronger.

How much money do you need to accomplish the project? (The allowed range is $500 – $3,000.)$2000
What other resources do you need to accomplish the project?

Community partners, TAP into hope, a safe space to host classes, an exhibition space.

Attach a full budget for your project. Include all costs and revenues. This can be a spreadsheet, word document, PDF, or image.Domestic-Violence-Workshop-Budget.pdf
Submit a PDF of up to five images representing recent projects or works. (Max file size 10 MB). This should be one file containing multiple images. This must be a PDF. Include captions describing the work. (A PDF can easily be made using the “print as PDF” function in MS Word or “Download as PDF” in google docs.)Her-embroidery-acrylic-gold-leaf-2023.pdf
Do you have general liability insurance coverage for your arts-based business, either through your own policy or through a project partner?No