My friends and I have been organizing an art show against human trafficking for many months now. It’s called “Beloved: There is no exchange for love.” The show will be up for viewing March 2nd-18th, with a public reception on March 4th from 6-8pm in the Lightwell Gallery of the University of Oklahoma School of Art and Art History. The featured artists are mostly OU students, but some of the art comes from other sources. I wanted to do this show because I want to see artists using their talents to stand for justice. (Details about the event)
Human trafficking is a real horror in the modern world. Especially in the case of sex trafficking, there tends to be a lot of curiosity around the subject, but most people don’t know what they can do to help. Though it’s important to face the horrors of this issue head-on, this exhibition attempts to take the focus off what the traffickers do and put it towards what we can do in response to the problem.
After taking a special, “limited edition” college course on the subject of modern day slavery with Drs. Irvine and Alavi, I became resolved to get involved with the issue. I sought to receive training from Beautiful Dream Society, the benefiting organization for this art show. I chose to benefit BDS because I have found them to be one of the most well-informed and well-run anti-trafficking organizations I have ever seen. They work hard to put former victims of human trafficking back in the driver’s seat of their lives and to remind them that they are not forgotten, but instead beloved.
I want to take a similar approach with this art exhibition. We know that trafficking is wrong, but we need to reflect on what we value that makes this true. Once we do, we can stand firm in opposition to human trafficking. Artists are powerful vision casters for society, and the artists in this show cast a vision for how and why we should consider humanity valuable. Viewing this show is an opportunity to process your own beliefs about the value of human life. It is an opportunity to support the arts and support anti-trafficking efforts, taking on real issues to make the world a more beautiful place.
-Gina Butler, art student at the University of Oklahoma and coordinator of Beloved
Below is one of the works that will be featured at Beloved: Skin, by Mycah Higley:
Artist Statement for Skin (by Mycah Higley):
Skin is the organ that covers our bodies; it is protection, separation, and appearance. We are identified only by what our skin allows. Our beauty is not only characterized by our skin, but what it covers. Whether our coverings are clear and soft, patchy and bruised, or a mixture of both, the humans underneath them are all significant in their individual beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. Human beings are more than any physical currency. Popular culture places a monetary importance on appearance. Human trafficking in particular, takes advantage of this obsession with sex, beauty, and cash by damaging more than just the skin that is being used, but also the loveliness underneath.