Not long ago, I didn’t know much about human sex trafficking. 2015 has become my year to learn and discover how me – just one person – can use what I love to get involved in the fight to end it. This is how I became a BDS Artist.
WHEN COMPASSION GRABS YOUR HEART AND WON’T LET GO
I began learning about human trafficking by talking to my friend Melissa, who works for Beautiful Dream Society. Then, last January, I attended some Human Trafficking Awareness Month events where speakers enlightened the audience with facts there were astounding and
eye opening. I volunteered at Beautiful Dream Society’s table at the Tulsa Human Trafficking Awareness Rally. I also accompanied Melissa to the Oklahoma Human Trafficking Task Force’s Candlelight Vigil at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.
It was a sort of snowball effect after that. Compassion had grabbed my heart and I couldn’t get the issue off my mind. I wanted to know more and I wanted to do something. I soon watched the documentaries “Tricked” and “Nefarious: a Merchant of Souls,” which were incredibly informative and moving. My heart hurt for women everywhere who had been exploited in such a way. I easily saw myself in their shoes.
I asked Melissa, “What can I do? I want to do something, but I don’t know where to start.” She kindly lent some suggestions: Volunteer for an anti-human trafficking organization. Sell art to raise money. Write a story (like this one) sharing your thoughts. “Any of those,” she said, “will help.” So, here I am.
BECOMING A BDS ARTIST
The idea that I could use my art in the cause of ending human trafficking intrigued me. It helped that I knew Melissa and saw firsthand the kind of work she was doing with Beautiful Dream Society, how much her heart was in it. BDS was an organization I could trust and feel close to. They continue striving to be unique, to make their message heard, and to do their best to serve victims of human trafficking in OKC and Lesotho, and beyond.
My first opportunity to get involved came in the spring. I began volunteering on BDS’s Communications Team. In addition to some graphic design, photography, and photo editing, I started creating watercolors with hand lettered quotes or inspirational sayings. Those pieces were then featured on BDS’s social media, especially Instagram. @beautifuldreamsociety.
When I learned that Beautiful Dream Society was developing an art community called BDS Artists, I jumped right on board. Not only could I raise money for BDS, but I could finally express through my art everything building up in my heart, driving me to contribute to the cause to end this horrible crime and communicate the hope of a fresh start for former victims.
ART, WORSHIP, INSPIRATION
Art has always been a passion of mine. I’ve been a painter for nearly nine years now, working with acrylic and watercolor, though I’ve always been into drawing and anything crafty. I strive daily to become better, to be inspired, and create something that, in turn, inspires others.
Art is worship to me. It draws me closer to my Creator. It’s both communal and personal. I consider it communal because I love to share it with others. I say it’s personal too, because I feel like I am exposing hidden parts of myself on canvas, showing my deepest self. It’s a beautiful experience.
Inspiration isn’t hard for me to find, especially since I see a lot of it in nature. Looking at other art work is always inspiring to me as well, especially when the colors are very vibrant and the style strikes me. I immediately react with wanting to break out my paints. Pinterest is a wonderful way to find inspiration as an artist. I have a board that I’ve created specifically for artwork I can look through when I’m in a creative funk; it always rejuvenates me when I look through it.
ARTIST WITH A CAUSE
I am ecstatic about selling my art to raise money to support an organization such as Beautiful Dream Society. I believe in these guys and all they are doing to serve victims of human trafficking and prevent future victims of human trafficking. Thank you, BDS, for letting me be a part of work that is literally changing lives!
Check out more of Mandy’s art on Instagram @ghost_mountain!