Dropping a Love Bomb: Local artist fights domestic violence with newest series

The words “Love Bomb” could evoke many thoughts and images. But to Shaker Heights native and figurative artist Leigh Brooklyn, the term refers to her newest art series that highlights the struggles of domestic violence abuse victimsstruggles she knows personally.

Brooklyn’s “Love Bomb” series consists of 10 individual eight-inch by six-inch pieces, each hand drawn, using the pen and ink crosshatch style. The works are for sale for $150 each on Brooklyn’s website, with 40% of the sales going directly to the Journey Center for Safety and Healing (formerly the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center) on Payne Avenue in AsiaTown.

The Journey Center has been providing services for individuals affected by child abuse and domestic violence for more than 40 years—providing guidelines for prevention, education, awareness, and even a safe haven.

“I was inspired to work with those affected by child abuse and domestic violence because I have been in an abusive situation in the past and have personally called the center for help,” shares Brooklyn. “I want to use my skills as an artist to pay it forward and help make the world a better place.”

The title “Love Bomb” refers to a term in psychology known as "love bombing." Brooklyn says the term sums up her series. “Love bombing is not love, but rather a carefully thought-out manipulation technique that abusers use to overwhelm someone in order to meet a goal of theirs—to acquire their victim and boost their ego,” explains Brooklyn, whose own Love Bomb focuses on a drawn grenade with the words, “LOVE” along the side.

After living in various U.S. citieslike Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Stowe, VermontBrooklyn decided to return to her hometown, looking for a work/live space close to downtown Cleveland. “Cleveland has some of the nicest people of all the places I've lived, and they have been super generous and helpful,” she explains.

Having worked with paint, photography, and pen and ink, Brooklyn’s art work has been showcased in art galleries and museums throughout the U.S., including the Cleveland Institute of Art; Makeshift Museum in Los Angeles; the U.S. Capitol Building and Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; Lorain County Community College; and both the Alliance Gallery and Diane von Furstenberg Studio in New York City.

Brooklyn was also featured last year in FreshWater’s “Five up-and-coming artists to watch in Cleveland” (with the last name Bongiorno).

In addition to her “Love Bomb” series, Brooklyn is working on a new project that is perfectly aligned with “Love Bomb,” entitled “Women’s Militia”a project that represents women's empowermentdepicting women dressed as soldiers with apocalyptic settings as the backdrop.

Brooklyn first photographs her subjects and then uses the photos as reference for painting the images on canvas.

Like, “Bomb,” Brooklyn says she created “Militia” based on her own experiences.

“After everything that I've been through I felt like I needed to surround myself with this army of strong women and I'm not the only one who needs that,” she explains. “I'm creating this series to unite and empower all women.”

She says the two projects perfectly aligned with one another as an encompassing portfolio to bring the victims to the forefront. “The grenades fit into the whole Women's Militia that I'm building,” she says. “They are a symbol of strength for me. They represent how powerful a “fragile” woman can be.”

Brooklyn’s previous works focused on the underrepresentation of different communities in society, where she researched, explored, and painted individuals from all walks of life. Now, she has further honed her talents. “I've focused on marginalized societies through my art for a long time and now after some life events, I've narrowed the focus of my work toward women.”

With the sales from “Love Bomb”, Brooklyn hopes to focus attention on the Journey Center for Safety and Healingnot just for this project but to help others become connected.

“I want to help others that are, were, or may be in a similar situation to recognize the signs of abuse before it's too late,” she says. “My goal is to raise awareness for them and what they do, so other victims know there's someone out there who can help them.”

If you need help, the Domestic Violence 24-Hour Helpline is (216) 391-4357 (HELP).

Rebecca Groynom
Rebecca Groynom

About the Author: Rebecca Groynom

Rebecca Groynom is a freelance writer, photographer, and resident of Cleveland Heights. In addition to writing for Fresh Water Cleveland, she has been published in several scientific journals, and her photography has been showcased in exhibitions throughout the US.