26% of them are children. 68% of them are trapped in forced labor. 55% of them are women and girls. 22% of them are victims of forced sexual exploitation. 100% of them are victims of human trafficking.
The SEAD Gallery and Bookshop is honored to host Monica Watkins and Jerry Chu, founders of Beauty for Freedom, for a Curator talk about BFF’s recently published book, Illuminate. Beauty for Freedom is a non-profit that works by using art therapy to internationally impact the lives of those affected by human trafficking. Illuminate is a book filled with photography, shot by young survivors of human trafficking in Kolkata, India. It’s goal is to raise awareness about the cause, and, most importantly, to strengthen and inspire the youth that Beauty for Freedom works with.
Human trafficking is a tragedy that traumatizes those affected, and there is a great need for art therapy. Beauty for Freedom’s mission is to “empower survivors through art”, giving survivors a voice through photography workshops. These workshops, taught by a team of artists, cover not only photography, but painting, music theory, fashion, health and wellness, and mural painting, all to promote self-esteem and self-expression.
The photos that fill the pages of this book are shot by these young survivors in a neighborhood in South Kolkata, capturing “personal moments, the innocence of the people of Kalighat”. This community is plagued as being “one of the most active red light districts in Kolkata”. The students of the art therapy photography workshops are welcomed in homes and given a glimpse into the daily lives of the people of Kalighat. This book shows that love that exists in this community, that beauty exists in this community, and that hope exists in this community.
Founder Monica Watkins told Huntsville newspapers, “Art is the greatest equalizer. Anyone can create, and in those moments, we are all acknowledging that we are the same. We share our hopes, dreams, fears, love, disappointments and every other emotion through creative expression. The process of creativity can help anyone transcend difficult circumstances and can transport us, in those moments, to what the human spirit can create”
At SEAD Gallery, we are believers in the transformative power of art, and can’t wait to hear about Illuminate at SEAD Gallery and Bookshop on November 7th from 6:30-8 PM.
All proceeds from the sales benefit the ground sister non-profit New Light Kolkata, a safe haven for at risk children and young adults, and Beauty for Freedom’s travel abroad arts therapy programming.