A large part of our mission at ArtWorks for Freedom is promoting collaboration within the anti-trafficking community. Our public awareness campaigns succeed only through the cooperative efforts of artists, NGOs, activists and volunteers who come together to raise public consciousness. That's why I'm thrilled to highlight our partnership with the student-run Against Child Trafficking (ACT) club at New York University (NYU) in this month's update. Partnering with these passionate students, we've been able to broaden the reach of our work as well as amplify the voices of the ACT club at NYU.
As you read more below, I hope you're inspired to become a champion for collaboration within the anti-trafficking community so that we can all reach our ultimate goal of eradicating modern slavery.
ArtWorks for Freedom at NYU
Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking on display at the Kimmel Center for University Life,
April 2 - May 17, 2015.
In April, ArtWorks for Freedom (ArtWorks) partnered with New York University's student-run Against Child Trafficking (ACT) club for a 6-week awareness campaign featuring our photo exhibit Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking along with educational events. The series began on April 2 and will wrap up on May 17. During the campaign's opening week, ArtWorks founder and director Kay Chernush gave an artist talk about the Bought & Sold photo series and our contributing artist Dawn Saito performed her theater piece "Suns Are Suns" for a full house of NYU students, faculty and community members. The campaign also featured a panel discussion on the role of art and human trafficking, a roundtable discussion with NYU faculty and students from the Coalition for Fair Labor, an evening with human trafficking survivor Shandra Woworuntu and a presentation by ArtWorks advisory board member and author Barbara Amaya, who signed copies of her newly released memoir.
Author Barbara Amaya (left) and students during Amaya's author talk at NYU.
ACT's president Sasha Weinert and vice president Blair Elizabeth Allan, both seniors at NYU, organized the campaign with support from their club peers. Having known about ArtWorks for over two years, Weinert and Allan were determined to bring the campaign to their campus in order to widen the audience of people who understand the reality of human trafficking.
"We really wanted to do something very powerful before we left NYU," says Allan. "We were talking about doing this for about a year, but it is a lot of work...we wanted to make sure we had several events around the artwork to let people know it was here."
Thus far, Weinert and Allan say the arts-based campaign has allowed ACT to reach a greater range of students and surrounding community members than they normally would through their regular meetings. For the student leaders of ACT, it was important to get beyond the typical activist community already aware of the issue.
"This is a really powerful activist community we have at NYU, but it's also limiting in some ways with the type of people you can reach," says Weinert. "We really wanted to bring the art as a new way to attract people outside of our small community...the art has allowed people to engage in the issue of human trafficking in a different way."
New Artworks contributing artist Thomas Estler agrees. Estler, who created the anti-human trafficking comic book series "Abolitionista," attended the NYU events and echoes the meaningful role that art plays in providing a different perspective on human trafficking.
Community members view Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking at NYU's Kimmel Center for University Life.
"I believe that art like Bought & Sold touches us in a way that many other mediums are not capable of," Estler says. "I think this art has the ability to grip us and draw us into the experience of the victims of trafficking in a way that compels us to take action."
According to Weinert and Allan, the ArtWorks for Freedom campaign at NYU has successfully reached a wide range of people throughout the community. "A lot of people look at the work and are very impacted by it. You can tell by several of our events," Allan says. "People were really moved by Kay's artist talk and her stories of speaking with survivors."
Weinert adds, "We really wanted to have multiple events so that there was a time when everyone had an opportunity to engage these issues. We've had 30-40, sometimes 50, people at each event, and there are different people each night. That's something I'm happy about."
Many thanks to NYU's ACT club, Sasha Weinert, Blair Elizabeth Allan and all of the artists who contributed to the ArtWorks for Freedom campaign at NYU! The campaign continues through May 17 where Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking remains on display at the Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Sq. South New York City, NY 10010.
ArtWorks for Freedom is happy to support KRANTI, an Indian nonprofit organization that empowers girls from Mumbai’s red-light areas to become agents of social change. This month, KRANTI is traveling to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC performing its play "Lal Batti Express (Red Light Express)."
Check out KRANTI's tour schedule and catch a performance in your city, including two shows in Washington, DC:
Thursday, May 21
641 S Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001
Tickets Available HERE
Sunday, May 24
4:30 - 5:30 PM (Followed by Q&A)
The Universities at Shady Grove Conference Center
9630 Gudelsky Drive, Bldg 1
Rockville, MD 20850
$20 / Person (Collected at the door)
KRANTI also seeks donations to help subsidize the housing, food and transportation costs of their stay. We are asking friends of ArtWorks to help! If you are able to offer restaurant gift certificates or coupons, metro passes or other support, please email email@example.com with the subject line "KRANTI Support."