Artworks for Freedom

Artworks for Freedom/Easton is a multi-media exhibit that uses the arts to inform, educate and transform public perceptions about the rapidly growing crime of human trafficking and modern-day slavery and to give a voice and support to survivors. The exhibit will run from September 8 through October 1, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (closed Mondays) in the Waterfowl Building in Easton.

The event will include the screening of three free curated films: “Food Chain,” “The True Cost” and “I Am Jane Doe.” “Food Chain,” a film investigating agricultural servitude, reveals the human cost in our food supply and the complicity of large buyers of produce like supermarkets and the fast food industry which over the past three decades have drained revenue from their supply chain leaving farmworkers in poverty and forced to work under subhuman conditions. The film will be show on Wednesday, September 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum with a discussion following. Volunteers from DC Fair Food, volunteers affiliated with the Immokolee Workers that the film is about, will present the Q&A and will have a table at the event.

“Captivity” is a collaged photo by Kay Chernush.

“The True Cost” is a documentary film about clothing and how we can be conscious consumers. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the fashion industry is having on people and the planet. The film will show on Thursday, September 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center, with a discussion to follow.

“I Am Jane Doe” is a film exposing the collusion of Backpage.com with online sex trafficking. The film chronicles the epic battle that several American mothers are waging on behalf of their middle-school daughters, victims of sex trafficking on Backpage.com. This film will show on Thursday, September 28 at 7 p.m. at Easton Premier Theater, Encore Cinema Series, Tred Avon Square, 210 Marlboro Avenue in Easton, with a discussion afterwards. The showing is sponsored by the Chesapeake Film Festival. Free tickets can obtained at www.chesapeakefilmfestival.com.

There will also be a panel discussion and lecture in collaboration with the Frederick Douglass Day Celebration at the Talbot County Free Library, as well as educational and interactive art experiences. All events are free to the public.

The Waterfowl Building, located at 40 South Harrison Street in Easton, will serve as headquarters for the event, with art in varied mediums by survivors, internationally recognized artists and specially created installations by local artists. Educational materials from global and local partners and interactive art opportunities will also be featured. An outdoor mural, “What You See Is Not Who I Am,” created by high school students from New York, will be in place across the street from the Waterfowl Building during the three-week event. The exhibit is sponsored by Ashley Insurance.

Maryland consistently ranks among the top 10 states in per capita incidents of human trafficking. Human trafficking is also a growing problem on the Eastern Shore, reflecting the fact that, globally, the rapid proliferation of modern slavery is second only to drug trafficking. In response to this problem, the Artistic Insights Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, in partnership with Artworks for Freedom (artworksforfreedom.org), is staging this multi-media art event.

Artworks for Freedom is a global initiative that uses the arts to:

  • Raise awareness of human trafficking in its many, often difficult to detect, applications.
  • Give a voice to survivors to enable them to find dignity, freedom, justice and healing.
  • Educate the public about the many deceptive ways that victims can be lured into enslavement.
  • Alert parents that teens and preteens, no matter what their socio-economic status, are the populations most at risk.

Kay Chernush is an award-winning photographer with more than 30 years experience in commercial and fine art photography and founder of Artworks for Freedom, a non-profit organization that uses the power of art in all its forms to fight modern slavery. In 2005, an assignment for the U.S. State Department brought Kay face to face with the evils of human trafficking and modern slavery. Challenged and appalled by this gross human rights abuse, Kay began working with anti-trafficking organizations and survivors around the world. She gradually developed an innovative approach that uses collage-constructed imagery to dignify trafficked persons and re-frame how their stories are portrayed.

She writes, “Initially I shot in a documentary style. But I soon became convinced that this approach could not convey the truth of what underlies the experience of being enslaved. The challenges were both moral and aesthetic: how to make visually compelling images without further endangering the very people I want to help. How to avoid enslaving public stereotypes, judgment and voyeurism? In response to these challenges, I changed my approach to actively involve trafficked persons in a process that explores their personal experience and helps transform how they see themselves. As a photographer and artist, I want the images to challenge how viewers think about the problem. Since the work is neither fully abstract nor representational, the survivors’ stories are used as counterpoint to help portray each person’s suffering and resolve.”

Carol Gordean and Mary Ann Schindler, co-chairmen, Artworks for Freedom/Easton, comment, “Artworks for Freedom is a global anti-trafficking initiative based in Washington, D.C. Easton’s event in September will signal the kick off of an even larger metro wide campaign in Washington, D.C. throughout October. Our goal is to raise consumer awareness of products that abuse human rights, and to unite the diverse Eastern Shore public interest groups in a local grass-roots campaign to provide useful information to the public and continue the fight against modern day slavery.”

Sponsors of the event include the Talbot County Art Council and the Maryland State Arts Council. For further information, contact artworksforfreedomeaston@gmail.com or visit artworksforfreedomeaston.org.

 

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