I recently had the joy of welcoming residents of Racine, Wisconsin, to the opening of our two exhibits, Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking and What You See Is Not Who I Am, on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The bright May afternoon provided a striking backdrop for these large-scale installations, which had a place of honor across from the courthouse on the Racine town square.
With Racine Chief of Police, Art Howell
I was deeply moved as I watched people throughout the evening walk slowly through the exhibits. Families with young children would pause as parents read the narratives aloud. I could see them point to certain places in the picture, perhaps explaining something in greater detail. Adults and children alike were visibly taken in by what they saw. Haley Shonter, Miss Racine 2016, attended wearing her tiara. Having embraced domestic violence as her signature issue, she believes that violence against women and human trafficking are closely linked. For three weeks, residents and visitors saw the same images and read the same stories, giving them a common language to continue the conversation and, under the strong leadership of the coalition, strengthen their efforts against human trafficking.
Murals installed on the Racine town square
Bought & Sold has now been exhibited around the United States and on three continents, and more events are in the works in Wisconsin over the summer. We are especially grateful to Karri Hemmig and Stephanie Sklba of the Racine Coalition against Human Trafficking for their help in facilitating these events as well as the Chief of Police Art Howell, Deputy Chief of Police Schultz and Investigator Neal Lofy for their support!
Promoting Women’s Well-Being
at the University of Wisconsin
The Flash Mob at UW
I have always loved universities. The atmosphere is charged with innovation, creativity and a love of ideas. Universities also play a major role in ending modern day slavery as conveners, researchers and educators.
Around the State
After Racine, Bought & Sold will travel to Beloit, where the exhibit and other events are being organized by Sandy Kincaid of the Women's Fund of the Stateline Community Foundation. Kay Chernush will be joined at the opening reception on July 8 by Senator Janis Ringhand, the Rock County DA, Chief of Police and Fire Chief, the City Manager and local service providers. ArtWorks will also be introducing the Red Sand Project to people at the Saturday Farmer's Market and screening "Not My Life" by Robert Bilheimer at the Community Action Center later in the day.
It was therefore a great honor to bring ArtWorks for Freedom to the First Annual 4W Summit on Women and Wellbeing at the University of Wisconsin, bringing together state and global activists, students, community leaders and the general public to address the challenge of improving the lives of women worldwide. Our invitation was facilitated by Dr. Jean Geran, co-Director of The STREETS Project (Social Transformation to End Exploitation for Sex), which represents the best of academic based initiatives and integrates survivors' voices into every step of their research into anti-trafficking best practices.
In a keynote address to over 350 conference participants, I stressed the importance of awareness and understanding that lead to action while Emmy-Winning CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenburg, also known as The Travel Detective, shared his firsthand experiences reporting on human trafficking around the world.
Bought & Sold was prominently displayed outside the Chazen Museum of Art where it was seen by hundreds of students, faculty and town residents over three weeks. Click here to see a gallery of images.
As part of Molly Gochman's Red Sand Project, we involved students and passersby in conversations about human trafficking. Dara Lehon handed out little packets of red sand so participants could fill sidewalk cracks across the campus, drawing attention to marginalized and exploited people who fall between the metaphorical cracks.
Jean M. Geran poses with the exhibit at the Chazen Museum
Working with Project Respect, Kay Chernush and Bill Adair engaged survivors of human trafficking in a workshop to gild an old wooden door for our Golden Doors to Freedom initiative. Participants were able to express their thoughts and emotions through the messages they inscribed on the doors. Project Respect is a women’s center that provides advocacy and support services for women survivors of sex trafficking.
We were honored to work with the STREETS Project and its co-director Jean M. Geran and look forward to partnering again. We also wish to thank Crescent Moon Antiques and Salvage and Sepp Leaf Products, whose in-kind donations made the Golden Doors to Freedom possible.
Messages from survivors of human trafficking
Next Stop: Asheville, North Carolina
Bought & Sold at the aSHEville Museum
Calling our Southern friends and supporters! Selected images from our Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking exhibit will be featured in the beautiful town of Asheville, North Carolina at the aSHEville Museum through August 31.
The opening reception for Bought & Sold will be held on June 16. Jill Westmoreland Rose, the U.S. Attorney General for the Western District of North Carolina, will give a power point presentation on trafficking. You won’t want to miss this.
The aSHEville Museum, founded and directed by Heidi Swann, features thought-provoking exhibits about gender inequality in advertising, photographs of the women of rural Appalachia, humorous exhibits about women’s bodies from breast cancer survivors, and more. It’s located at 35 Wall Street in Asheville, NC, 28801, and open daily. Visit the website for directions and admission.
In Other News:
Congratulations Are In Order!
Congrats to Kay Chernush for receiving a 2016 Citation Award from Sarah Lawrence College, an annual recognition program to honor outstanding Sarah Lawrence alumni!
The citation read in part:
Kay Chernush, class of '66, is an award-winning commercial and fine art photographer who has used her lens to bring awareness to some of the most pressing issues of our time, most notably, human trafficking. In 2011, she founded ArtWorks for Freedom, a nonprofit organization that uses art to fight slavery throughout the world and for which she remains Artistic Director. She was a Freedom to Create Prize Commended Artist and the winner of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women’s international “Arts! Rights! Action!” competition. Chernush was the recipient of Fulbright Grant to India and an Arlington County (Virginia) Commission for the Arts Spotlight Grant.
Barbara Liotta '74, a friend of 25 years (and an ArtWorks for Freedom contributing artist), says of Chernush's work, "It's very difficult to make political art. The temptation to be sentimental, to be strident, to preach, or to harangue is huge. In Kay's photographs, it's not only the depth of the subject that is stunning, but the strength of the artistry. She takes a searing subject and makes high art that burns the viewer's soul."
A Warm ArtWorks Welcome and Thanks!
I’d like to welcome the newest members of our ArtWorks team: Communications Specialist Laura Rodini, who has over 10 years of experience in marketing and public relations, Intern Jessica Crist, a senior at George Washington University double majoring in International Affairs and Spanish Language and Literature. Jessica is passionate about advocating for and protecting the basic human rights of every citizen. We’d also like to thank Jeremiah Sarella, recent GWU graduate and anti-trafficking advocate, for volunteering with us this spring!
A Question For You
This month, I’d like to introduce a new, interactive feature – answer correctly and you will receive a beautiful screensaver that uses one of our ArtWorks images.
Who can tell us the correct name of the US anti-trafficking law and when it was passed?