In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the US Office for Victims of Crime launched an Art initiative named Reprent Resilenece. I'm proud to share one of the artworks selected for display is a piece I created with survivor leader Selina Deveau, named Beautifully Transformed.
Beautifully Transformed is a piece that explores the transformation of sex trafficking survivors in the US. It is a layered composite of still image portraits and poetry written by Selina about her transformation from survivor to advocate. The portraits depict two survivors gazing up toward light symbolizing bravery and moving toward a better future.
Selina is the central inspiration for the artwork. For the past seven years, Selina has been a survivor leader, speaker, consultant, and advocate. She has trained law enforcement and classroom professionals and written age-appropriate curriculum on trafficking for schools. Selina had gone further, creating a safe space on her family farm in Maine for survivors of trafficking, which she calls Hope for Me. This sanctuary offers survivors a place to heal, recover, further their education, and learn life skills and trades to ensure they can maintain a sustainable income.
“I look back and realize I didn't really have much of a chance,” Selina says. “I was six years old and in kindergarten the first time I was trafficked, and seven years old when I was used in child abuse materials. I was sold and exploited for ten years as a child and teenager; a decade enslaved.” She continues, “One of the hardest challenges of surviving human trafficking was the loss of my human dignity. I went from a little girl who survived the unspeakable to a woman who was haunted by her past and had to relearn everything. The path to my healing was both brutal and beautiful.”
While I can’t know what it’s like to be trafficked, there are emotions we can all relate to on some level. This is the power of art: to inform, stir public outrage about this great injustice, and to move us to take action against it. In 2017, I founded Capture Humanity as a platform to tell the stories of modern-day slavery. What makes us unique is we are working to do this through collaborative efforts with survivors by creating film, video, and photography, with a special focus on documentary practices.