This past weekend, Nov. 18 to 20, ArtWorks for Freedom highlighted the issue of human trafficking in a new multimedia piece called “In Plain Sight.” This World Premiere Collaboration between choreographer Christopher K. Morgan, composer Ignacio Alcover, and photographer Kay Chernush drew inspiration from Chernush’s “Bought and Sold” series of images, which were integrated with dance, movement, and original music.
Chernush has described her “Bought and Sold” series as “an attempt to put a human face on the statistics and headlines, to tell the stories of modern-day enslavement and the journey towards freedom.”
The four performances of “In Plain Sight” were part of a dance program called “Reveal,” which inaugurated the newly renovated Black Box Theater at the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, MD.
“It has been a galvanizing and inspiring process to see this subject matter anew, through different artistic lenses and the creative synergies between Christopher, Ignacio, the dancers and my images,” said Chernush.
Check out the “Bought and Sold” exhibit here.
Kay Chernush has worked extensively with Free the Slaves, helping us document our frontline work. She took the striking image above, of laborers in charcoal camps in Brazil. Slavery is found in the supply chains of Brazilian pig iron, produced in charcoal camps like the one above. (For more information about our work in Brazil, go here!).
This past Saturday, another artist decided to give a voice to the voiceless, quite literally, through rap, at the Mahal Benefit Concert in Fullerton, CA. At this benefit for the Mahal Foundation (“mahal” meaning love in Tagalog), which supports orphanages in the Philippines, rapper Mickey Cho performed a chillingly heartfelt song called “Not for Sale,” dedicated to women and girls in sex trafficking.
“Her life is worth more than that / Her life is worth more than that…
We use the internet to search up all the best gifts / But these girls are being sold around on Craigslist”
Listen to “Not for Sale”
It’s closing in on that time of year: the time of year for holiday parties, and end of year giving! You can do both—celebrate, and give back—in one fell swoop on Tuesday, December 6 at L.A.’s legendary Hotel Café.
The Charitable Living group is putting on an amazing show to benefit Free the Slaves. They’re calling it “Voices for Freedom.” Performers include Joe Purdy; Cary Brothers; The Rescues; The Makepeace Brothers; Fay Wolf; Sorry, Nelson; and Buddy. Many of these artists started their careers at the Hotel Café, so the evening is sure to be an intimate one. The host/MC will be the comedian-magician Justin Willman.
Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door.
The show is selling out fast. So buy your ticket today!
“Freedom of Expression” was the theme for The New Hollywood’s Benefit on Sunday for Free the Slaves—and they couldn’t have expressed it better. With rousing tributes to Marvin Gaye, Christina Aguilera, and Maya Angelou, the group sang, danced, and shimmied their way across a performance worthy of Broadway.
Alexis Carra, the director of the benefit and a Broadway veteran herself, told the New Hollywood Group to “sing, dance, be open, love, smile, create, and carry on a tradition of expression as a means of building relationships” as a way to get the audience to take action.
Performances of Chigago’s “Hot Honey Rag” and Alison Krausse’s ”Down to the River” were featured, along with a choreographed medley of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.”
In addition to exciting musical numbers, the group paid tribute to the names and faces of slavery survivors—such as Maria Suarez, a former slave trafficked to Los Angeles from 1976 (at age 15) to 2004.
“This isn’t a play. This isn’t fiction. This is someone’s life. I want to do her story justice.” said Beth Navarro, a TNH member who gave a stirring monologue about Suarez’s life.
Navarro was also responsible for gathering Free the Slave’s research about slavery for the “facts” section, a spoken word presentation by TNH performers that utilized top 10 facts about slavery in a metaphorical dance routine.
For Navarro, learning about the details of slavery was eye-opening, providing an inspiration for her monologue on Maria Suarez.
“When I saw some of the testimonials on their (Free the Slaves) website I knew I had to tell one of these stories. I pored over videos, their thought-provoking documentary, Dreams Die Hard, and read interviews conducted with freed slaves. I realized how ignorant I was to this issue. I didn’t reaize how wide-spread human trafficking was…and when I read Maria’s story, I had no idea it happened in my own backyard.” Navarro said.
Not all of the evening was somber, however.
There were also times for laughs, courtesy of TNH member Annie Tedesco. Sashaying her way across the stage in a leotard and legwarmers, Tedesco brought comic relief and Flashdance renditions, interrupting Emcees and posing for our camera with a “Freedom Sucks” sign.
Those of us watching the benefit from the Free the Slaves booth were impressed and inspired by the performance, and grateful to the New Hollywood Group for such a fantastic show!
“Hearing the ladies of TNH bring to life the transcripts of slavery survivors was deeply moving to me…it really helped show that the divisions between us and modern day slavery are really thin…and Annie Tedesco’s leotard was a nice touch.” said Anne Keehn, the Web Producer for Free the Slaves.
At the end of the night, the women of TNH invited all of the attendees to join them for an after-hours dance party, celebrating the freedom of expression.
Once again, thank you so much to the lovely ladies of TNH!
Last year’s recipient of the Fredrick Douglass Freedom Award, activist Tina Frundt, made headlines when she returned to Cleveland—the place she had been trafficked into sex slavery when she was just a teenager.
Frundt has been active in the fight against the multimillion dollar sex trafficking industry, starting her own anti-slavery non-profit called Courtney’s House—a place where services and resources are provided to survivors of the trade in Washington, D.C.
Frundt’s visit to Cleveland was covered by local newspaper The Plain Dealer. Check out the article below!
National activist fighting sex trafficking says she was first exploited in Cleveland
By Margaret Bernstein, The Plain Dealer
Tina Frundt doesn’t have happy memories of Cleveland. The former foster child arrived here from Chicago on her 14th birthday, in a car driven by a man who convinced her he loved her when no one else did.
She said she was taken to a house where four other teen girls lived and was raped by two men she didn’t know, beginning what would become more than a decade of being trafficked as a sex slave.
“Not My Life” a documentary by oscar-nominated director Robert Bilheimer airs Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. Be sure to tune in to see our very own Kevin Bales.