Burlington, VT– A photographer says she’s disappointed and in disbelief after someone vandalized her studio during last weekend’s South End Art Hop. Megan Allen says she feels violated in a space that’s supposed to be safe for everyone.

Burlington’s Art Hop is an annual celebration of local art and artists, and for Allen, it was an exciting opportunity.

“This year was my first experience being a part of it, which is super exciting,” says Allen. “I’m in a great location down here with so many different artists and support and excitement for art, so it’s really exciting as a photographer to be involved in that.”

But Allen says she wasn’t celebrating this past Sunday morning, when she walked in to find her studio vandalized.

“I was in disbelief. Even for a few days after everything happened, I wasn’t able to process the feelings of what actually happened,” says Allen.

Allen photographs women and their families, and Pine Street has been her home base for about a year. She says Friday night of Art Hop went well; she opened her doors, took polaroid photos and wrote notes of love and self-confidence with her visitors.

Allen couldn’t be there in-person on Saturday, but left her door open as other hosts were still in the building for the event. When she returned Sunday morning, she knew immediately that things were off.

“There were a lot of pictures scattered out, so I was immediately excited, thinking ‘wow, people actually took pictures for me that I could hang up on my wall, maybe they left them to develop,'” explains Allen. “I walked over to find that all my film was wasted, inappropriate photos, inappropriate marks were written on the photos and hung on my wall, explicit words and everything, so it was very disrespectful.”

Allen also says someone, or multiple people, went into her private closet and ruined several clothing items.

“As I walked around the back – I do provide a client wardrobe for the women that I photograph – I would say 75% of everything was tangled, on the floor, pieces were missing,” says Allen.

Allen says she feels violated, but she isn’t looking for the people that vandalized her space. “It wasn’t important to me,” Allen says.

“All that was important to me was literally cutting it up and throwing it away, because the energy of what happened was just, that it needed to be gone,” she notes.

Allen says the incident has led her to value her own work more.

“It’s really allowed me to see the importance of what I’m doing, whereas before, I thought as artists, it’s so easy to put others ahead of us, or put other people on pedestals, but really what we need to do is honor ourselves,” says Allen.

Now, Allen is unsure if she’ll participate in Art Hop again next year.

“Next year, if I participate, I’m not going to open it up when I’m not here. It is something that I hold so scared and so private, that now I’m going to really work on protecting that and realizing the potency of what we do as artists, and what I do as a photographer,” says Allen.

“When we leave our spaces open for the public to come in and appreciate our work during an event that’s for art appreciation and community, you should never expect to have your space vandalized and disrespected,” she notes.