By Kristen Maikoo
On November 6, Salem’s campus organization of Stop Child Trafficking Now (SCTNow) collaborated with the Salem College Art Department and Art Society to host the reception for an art exhibit to increase awareness of child trafficking. Displayed in the June Porter Johnson Gallery in the Fine Arts Center, this event, Illuminating the World of Human Trafficking Through the Arts, featured artworks submitted by various participants.
At the reception, members of SCTNow were eager and willing to speak about the artworks and enlighten attendees on the issue of human trafficking. Members greeted guests and passed out event programs. SCTNow and Professor Kim Varnadoe, the head of the Art Department and gallery director, both hope for this to become an annual event.
Club members, the Art Department, and the art society began working on planning this event three years ago. Helen Fowowe, president of SCTNow, had taken classes in the Fine Arts Center and noticed that others, including herself, would stop to observe and contemplate the artworks.
“I thought, you know, we could do this. Why not?” she says.
Fowowe presented her idea to the board of SCTNow, and the process began to establish an the art gallery to shed light on human trafficking.
SCTNow reached out to organizations on other college campuses, as well as, in the community to spread the word about the art exhibit. Salem students and faculty, and members of the community submitted 30 to 40 entries. According to Virginia Parnell, SCTNow’s secretary, most entrants were women who depicted women in their artwork. She says that it is interesting that the portrayal of women overdid those of men when human trafficking is an issue that involves men, women and children.
The club reached out to Varnadoe with their idea.
“…I wanted it to have student focus–that’s when I connected Helen with the members of the Salem Art Society. I tried to step back and let them handle it. Both groups caring very much about social issues, it was a really good match,” says Varnadoe. The turnout of the reception pleased her.
She wants the buyers of the artworks to know that “…when they purchase one of these beautiful pieces it is helping a very worthy cause with 50 percent of all sales going towards the international organization of Stop Child Trafficking Now.”
Fowowe is grateful for all the members who worked to make the art exhibit into a reality. Being from Nigeria, she witnessed this issue happening every day when she was a child. To her shock, this issue is still prevalent in the United States as well.
“Back then there was nothing that I could do. Now, I’m older; the least I can do is talk about it,” says Fowowe.
Her goal through this event was to start the conversation about human trafficking and promote awareness while working to end it.
“The same way people are more likely to remember movies that they have seen a long time ago, people are more likely to remember an impactful picture. People are more likely to remember and ponder upon an image that does not resonate with them well or an image they fell in love with or awed,” says Fowowe.
The art exhibit will be on display until Jan. 30. To learn more about human trafficking or joining SCTNow, contact Helen Fowowe at email@example.com, or any SCTNow member.