HALLOWELL — The only sign that anything was happening at the Harlow Gallery was the smell of paint and the hum of the fan.

Despite the big “Gallery Closed” sign, the door was open late Thursday afternoon to whoever wanted to join Susan Fuller, Wayland Linscott and Nan Bell for the first of three Silent Witness workshops, a prelude to the gallery’s October exhibition, “It Takes a Community: Transforming Violence II,” which runs Oct. 2 to 24. The final Silent Witness workshop is scheduled for Saturday.

Silent Witness is a national program that honors the memories of women killed as a result of domestic abuse. Exhibits are life-size wooden silhouettes of women, painted red, each bearing a golden shield with the woman’s name and details of her story.

“In three days, we’ll have some painted, some primed and some repaired,” Fuller said, stepping around a half-painted silhouette laid across two sawhorses. The workshops are a way to bring the public into the process of making new figures and touching up the existing ones. Repairs needed this year include repainting and replacing the figures’ supports with hinged stands to make them more stable. Linscott, who collaborated with Fuller in putting together the Silent Witness project a decade ago, was cutting chain into lengths for the stands.

“The value in doing this is creating a space where people can come work on a project,” said Fuller, who is panel coordinator for the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel. Sometimes, the volunteers who come are able to talk about their own experiences with domestic violence, she said.

In all, more than 50 silhouettes have been created, and they are located across the state. Fuller said 12 silhouettes are being added this year.

“We’ll do the shields later because we want to take the time to notify the families and get their involvement in the stories,” she said.

Deborah Fahy, executive director of the Harlow Gallery, said the gallery deliberately set aside the time to host the workshops and other events throughout October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“We knew the Silent Witness Project had a backlog of women to be honored, and we were happy to give the space to this,” she said. “When you look at these figures, you are emotionally connected to these women who were killed. It’s just a huge impact.”

The Harlow Gallery and the Family Violence Project presented “Transforming Violence” a decade ago, in the wake of the murder of Cony High School teacher Chellie Calloway, who was killed by her husband. It also hosted the Silent Witness initiative.

This year’s exhibit, presented by the gallery and the Family Violence Project of Somerset and Kennebec counties, is bringing together the work of more than two dozen artists around Maine that will be on display through the run of the show. A host of other activities is also scheduled, including “Jake and Caroline, a Skit,” and “You the Man,” a one-act play at the Hallowell City Hall that features Brian Chamberlain. It shines a light on unhealthy relationship behavior and safe bystander intervention.

A full listing of events is available on the gallery’s website at harlowgallery.org.

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632, or at:

[email protected]