Blizard Art Gallery has recently put on a new exhibit to display. SAFE? by Robert Markey depicts a plethora of art about sex trafficking in foreign countries.
SAFE? is not your typical exhibit for Blizard. It highlights the experience of children in countries where sex and slave trafficking are a major part of society. Through his art, Markey shows an exact portrait of each child he has worked with in the past: “some laughing, some serious, but all beautiful.”
Markey came to this idea when traveling through Cambodia, helping disadvantaged kids make mosaic murals. He realized and became aware of the increasing rate of human trafficking, especially in children. After researching, he also became alerted that the same thing is happening here in the United States. In the United States alone, between 100,000 and 300,000 children are enslaved and sold for sex.
Doing the same thing in Brazil with the mosaic murals and disadvantaged children, Markey noticed that it wasn’t much different than Cambodia. Today, Brazil is “considered to have the worst child sex trafficking record after Thailand,” according to the research on display with the exhibit.
The portraits of each child may be confusing to understand at first. After walking around the exhibit, you see a small plaque that says, “These kids are probably safe, but 2 million kids just like them will be trafficked into the sex and slave labor industry in the next 12 months.”
Markey’s main purpose to this whole art exhibit is to show the beauty in the artwork. He wants people to open their minds and hearts to the underlying issues that most people don’t even know about. They honor the children that have had to go through such terrible events, and will continue to have a difficult life.
Along with art, SAFE? is in collaboration with the Somaly Mam Foundation. This foundation supports over 10 district victim service organization in five countries. They have rescued close to 7,000 women and children from sexual slavery since 1996.
Not only is Springfield College honored to have this art exhibit, but it is the first time a topic like this has been featured in the gallery. Director of the Blizard Gallery, Ron Maggio, said, “It’s an opportunity for people to see unique art without having to go to a big city such as Boston or New York.”
The one-of-a-kind event is open to the entire campus and community of Springfield.
The art program at Springfield College has a lot to offer. Although the SAFE? exhibit is only here until Oct. 4, there are many other things to go check out after it is over.
Things such as theater performances, dance performances and even concerts are all around campus, and take place during the fall 2012 season of the William Simpson Fine Arts series at Springfield College.