WEST RUTLAND — When Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony last fall accusing now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, the hearing divided the country.
For West Rutland salutatorian Kasey Serrani, it was a day that would live in infamy and inspire her to create the piece that would bring Congressman Welch’s Choice Award home from Montpelier last Saturday.
“I am amazed by the creativity of talented young artists across Vermont,” U.S. Rep. Peter Welch said in a release. “Picking a winner is always difficult. Congratulations to Kasey for her beautiful work. She clearly has a bright future in the arts.” Serrani’s acrylic painting, titled “CBF,” was chosen from 157 others submitted by students from 36 schools throughout the state, and was the only award West Rutland took home.
The piece, which Serrani said manifested in her mind immediately, shows Ford in the foreground with her hand raised as if to swear her honesty before a judge, eyes closed in a hopeful and fearful moment of truth.
Ford is backed by a full audience of people with various skin tones, some with eye glasses, raising their fists in the air as a show of solidarity.
Behind Ford, in bright crimson letters, shine the words “Me too.”
“I wasn’t expecting to do anything with it,” Serrani said. “I was just feeling very angry about the outcome of what happened. ... I know people who have gone through similar situations where people don’t believe them. It’s heartbreaking.”
Serrani said the trial shone a light on how dangerous it can be to come out and tell one’s story, especially one of personal trauma, and especially when the public feels the need to undermine the survivor’s experiences.
“The fact that she came out and tried to explain her story, and people still didn’t believe her ... it was really hard to watch, and it resonated with me,” Serrani said.
In the grand scheme of things, Serrani said, Blasey-Ford didn’t get what she deserved from her experience: closure, at the very least.
“I wanted her to be the focus, but I wanted it to be obvious that there are still people who are backing her,” Serrani said, gesturing to her painting. “But other people have gone through this too, which was why I put the ‘Me too’ behind her.”
Being a millennial on the verge of launching the next phase of her educational career, Serrani said she owned being a part of society that didn’t facilitate civil discourse, especially about personal experiences.
“We attack each other on social media, and focus on trying to make sure that everyone knows that we’re right,” Serrani said. “We don’t listen to each other.”
But Serrani said she still fostered hope for improvement beyond the progress that has already been made, and refused to condemn society for needing a Me Too movement.
Rather, it was a symbol of how far society has come and exemplified the collective strength of a society with much more work to do.
“You’re not alone,” Serrani said. “You have people who you can depend on and rely on ... to understand.”
Serrani was accepted to all four of the colleges she applied to, and after graduating this spring will be attending Northern Vermont University-Johnson in the fall.