Oil on Canvas
30 x 40″
This is one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever painted.
I organized and curated an art exhibition with my group, the Tahoe Activist Artists last year, entitled ‘We the People: Visualize a World of Conversation and Connection’. One of the venue hosts is a board member of our local women’s shelter, Live Violence Free. She told me about the shocking prevalence of human trafficking in our community. I have lived in South Lake Tahoe for 14 years, and was not aware of it. As a parent and teacher, I felt compelled to act.
This image of a young girl bearing a barcode tattoo on her neck reflects a common way for traffickers to brand their victims. They mark them as their property, a dehumanizing act which dates back to Roman times, maybe even earlier. Human Trafficking is modern slavery, and happens with devastating regularity in our culture, and globally.
The arrangement of the model’s limbs echoes a Swastika, symbolizing the mass dehumanization of the Holocaust. As a descendant of a Holocaust survivor, this felt particularly poignant. The Swastika was better known as an ancient spiritual symbol before it was appropriated by the Nazis, and so the subtext of the pose is a message of hope and transcendence.
Tahoe Activist Artists conducted a poster campaign during the Superbowl this year, the busiest time for human trafficking in the US. We used “Lost Property” on two of a series of poster designed to raise awareness, directed at victims, the public and people paying for sex. We were sponsored by Tahoe Douglas Rotary club, and Whittel High School INTERACT program.
8% of the profit from this painting will be donated to 3 Strands Global Foundation, who work towards a world free of Human Trafficking.