Friend of Free the Slaves, artist Ben Swatez will be having an art show this Sunday, February 12 at the Phantom Gallery in Long Beach, CA. Last year, Ben visited our frontline work in the village of Bahari in India. The community there had just recently come out of slavery through Free the Slaves’ Free a Village, Build a Movement initiative. Ben brought art supplies and taught the villagers how to paint. The resulting artworks are breath-taking—you can see some of them here.
Since returning to the U.S., Ben has been developing a body of work based on the paintings by the formerly enslaved villagers. He has created art pieces that combine the villagers’ self portraits with portraits that he paints. You’ll be able to see his work in progress at the art show this weekend.
We’d love to see you there!
During the 2010 Freedom Awards events, Free the Slaves became acquainted with an energetic artist and traveler, Ben Swatez. Ben did live painting during the Freedom Rocks after party, and we were inspired by his passion, and ability to connect with the audience.
Ben had an idea to continue to help Free the Slaves out: the India Art Project, which is an outgrowth of Free the Slaves’ Free a Village Build a Movement campaign, in which entire communities are brought out of slavery through holistic, economic and social programs. Ben auctioned off the art he produced at Freedom Rocks to finance his trip to India. There, he planned to create an art therapy program for survivors of slavery. In collaboration with the villagers, Ben planned to create a series of art works.
Ben successfully raised the money. Last month, he and his partner Diana departed for Uttar Pradesh, India, to work with the children in the village of Bahari—a village that was once embroiled in slavery, and now, with the help of FTS partners and the Free a Village Build a Movement campaign, have moved out of slavery.
Read Ben and Diana’s dispatch, and see more photos of children in Bahari doing art therapy after the jump!