I love the fall! Crisp bright days and chilly nights make me happy. It's also a time of expectancy, when we look forward to reaping the fruits of our hard work. While farmers are bringing in their harvests, ArtWorks for Freedom is also enjoying watching how ideas we have nurtured over time are growing into strong, life-producing activities
Our participatory art project The Golden Doors to Freedom attracts new, growing audiences to the conversation around human trafficking. Even those who are familiar with the issue become moved in a whole new way when they become "artists" themselves, creating messages of hope, inspiration and awareness through the Golden Door. Below, you'll see some great photos from our latest initiative with the Women in Homeland Security.
We are also celebrating a growing young leader in welcoming Betsy Bramon as our new Board Chair. Betsy has served on our Board since the beginning, and we're delighted that she's bringing her creativity, enthusiasm and commitment to this position. There is a special feature about Betsy below, highlighting her work on human rights, gender issues and human trafficking abroad and in the U.S. As she steps into her new role, we want to thank outgoing Board Chair Beth Ruoff for her service over the past five years.
We know the fight to end human trafficking requires a long-term commitment and adaptability to ever-changing realities. As we continue to grow, we thank you for being there to evolve alongside us. Together, we can grow stronger and more effective than ever in our efforts to prevent human trafficking.
Our Artistic Director and President Kay Chernush and Executive Director Michele Clark shared about the origins of The Golden Doors to Freedom project as well as ArtWorks' overall mission. Guests had the opportunity to decorate the door with precious gold and silver leaf and write messages of hope and inspiration to survivors.
One participant, who organized a church human trafficking prevention project, remarked, "Your group's efforts communicate powerfully in a unique way to bring awareness to the issue and to build advocacy for our brothers and sisters in need."
"Being a part of the art-making process gives the public a chance to look at this issue from a different perspective," said Kay. "Art helps people see through a different lens, and in the process, learn something new about themselves and about human trafficking."
Betsy Bramon, ArtWorks for Freedom Board Chair (left) discussing the Golden Door
Click HERE to see more photos from our afternoon with WHS. If you would like information on how to bring The Golden Doors to Freedom to your community event, please contact Kay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEET OUR NEW BOARD CHAIR
BETSY BRAMON is a dedicated human rights advocate with 10 years of international experience working in civil society, government and community activism. Her expertise in human rights focuses on internet freedom and human rights online, women’s empowerment, gender-based violence, forced labor, human trafficking and modern slavery. ArtWorks for Freedom has benefited from Betsy's passion and commitment for human rights since our founding, and we are thrilled to introduce her as the new Chair of our Board of Directors.
Get to know Betsy and her passion for ensuring equal rights for marginalized people worldwide.
Why did you get involved in the fight against human trafficking?
This is a great question! It's hard to know what exactly brought me to the issue, but I do know that a family rooted in service and a strong personal interest in equality and social movements has been a big part of me since I was a child. As a girl, I read everything I could about historical slavery, especially the stories of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. I was captivated by the models they gave me of women leading with great conviction, fearlessness, grit, integrity and tenacity of the highest degree. I carried those stories with me as I grew older and began to explore women's movements and broader human rights issues. In human trafficking, I saw such an intersection of these issues. I followed my questions initially to Amsterdam, and it was there that I first worked with survivors of trafficking, people in prostitution, formerly homeless women, refugees and others who faced extreme hardship and vulnerability to trafficking.
What do you think ArtWorks for Freedom brings to the anti-human trafficking movement?
I believe that ordinary communities have the ability to do extraordinary things when they collaborate with compassion and creativity. ArtWorks for Freedom challenges the mainstream framing around human trafficking through arts-based storytelling that elicits compassion and survivor-centered narratives. The arts give people a platform for understanding and interacting not only with a complex issue but also within their community. I believe there is real power in that!
What have you enjoyed most about serving on the ArtWorks for Freedom board?
I love being able to work with an organization that is blending art and social justice - two things that have made a huge impact on who I am personally today.
What are you looking forward to as the new board chair?
ArtWorks for Freedom is growing, and I have the privilege of helping to steward some of that growth. We have a lot of the ingredients for success: strong vision, great leadership through our Founder Kay and our Executive Director Michele, and skilled, motivated community partners. We are also looking for new volunteers and board members, so we'd love to hear from those who have the passion to get involved!
ARTWORKS AT THE
ArtWorks for Freedom Board Member Liz Salett (left) with Kay Chernush
On October 9-11, the SAFE Coalition for Human Rights held its 2nd annual conference, gathering activists and practitioners from around the country and the world. On October 10, Michele Clark moderated a panel focused on "The Messaging of Trafficking," which emphasized the importance of portraying human trafficking accurately and treating survivors with dignity.
Kay Chernush sat on the panel alongside film producer Chelo Alvaraz Stehle, editor and writer Chris Chmieleweski, and social media expert Firas Nasr. Each offered insights into their own work and how often the media stereotypes victims and paints a false picture of trafficking.
"If policy makers as well as concerned citizens depend on the media for their understanding of what human trafficking is, we will end up with bad policies and programs," commented Michele in her introductions. "How will a jury be able to make an informed decision in a trial if their only understanding of what a victim of trafficking looks like is from movies and television?"
Using art to create a more accurate portrayal of human trafficking is one of ArtWorks' core objectives. You can visit our Arts Portfolio to see how our contributing artists are using their work to show human trafficking in a more realistic and complex light.
Want to help us end human trafficking, but not sure how? Now, it's as easy as shopping!
We've joined AmazonSmile, a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com.
The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to ArtWorks for Freedom!
The end of the year is right around the corner! That means we're gearing up for our annual fundraising drive! For the past two years we've started our annual fundraising drive on GIVING TUESDAY, which this year falls on November 29. We hope you'll mark your calendars to show your support for ArtWorks starting November 29 all the way through Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January.
As we look forward to 2017, your gifts will help us to:
Expand our efforts internationally as we build on our ongoing work in India and reach out to new audiences in Europe.
Focus the attention of our Nation's Capitol on preventing human trafficking.
Develop a vibrant network of artist-activists who are committed to using their art to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children.
And you don't have to wait until November 29 to start. Give now, and get a head start!