Erica Butler, 28, of Pleasantville, sat on the floor smacking a doll and pulling her hair. The image was disturbing, but that was the point.

Butler and classmates in Richard Monteleone's Art Appreciation class at Atlantic Cape Community College demonstrated the effects of domestic violence Tuesday outside the campus theater as part of their study on how performance art can be used to explore social issues.

Student Lauren Pizza, 19, of Brigantine, said they chose domestic violence because people in the class know people who were affected by it, but never wanted to make it public.

"We wanted to do something we actually care about, and something that not a lot of people speak out about," she said.

Andrew Indio, 22, of Hammonton, said they also wanted to show that domestic abuse does not just affect women, but also children and men.

"We hope that someone might see this, and decide to do something, or help someone," said Luz Yana, 20, of Atlantic City.

Two other groups tackled more popular topics - texting while driving and distracted driving.

One group made small cardboard cars they "drove" as they put on makeup, drank a soda, played with their pet and texted. Another group asked people to pick written text messages from a basket and read them. When they opened the message, another message outlined the results of their texting while driving - typically an accident.

Lexy Peters, 19, of Folsom, who put on mascara while she drove, said they wanted to get across the point that while texting has received a lot of attention, there are a lot of ways distracted driving can cause accidents.

"These are things we do every day," she said.

Rob Klimkowski, of Galloway Township, stopped by their demonstration to say that he does text at red lights, but keeps his phone up high so he can watch the light change because he doesn't want to be one of those annoying people who sits at a light texting after it turns green.

Josh Santos, 20, of Egg Harbor Township said many young people really don't think that what they do can cause an accident.

"You can cause a death, or hurt yourself," he said.

The students also made posters with statistics on distracted driving, including one that said 77 percent of teens surveyed believe they can drive safely while texting.

Monteleone said he was very impressed with the research the students put into their projects this year, which helped them do convincing performance pieces.

"I'm really proud of their outcomes," he said.

Contact Diane D'Amico:

609-272-7241