An encounter with a tossed-aside newspaper became both a learning experience and a metaphor for South Florida-based artist Rhona Rubio, whose massive interactive installation will provide both the focal point and the impetus for a free workshop on how to stop human trafficking from 6 to 8 p.m. on August 4 at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale.
“Seeing an article about human trafficking in the newspaper that day was the first time I had ever heard about the issue,” Rubio said. Nearly a decade later, she couldn’t stop thinking about those who were suffering and decided to volunteer with an international nonprofit dedicated to helping women at risk. She knew she needed to do more.
Inspired by her artwork, ArtServe’s free August 4 workshop is a collaboration between ArtServe and A21, one of the largest organizations in the world fighting human trafficking. Building on Rubio’s artistic mission to stop the social injustice of modern slavery, Tanya Goodwin from the Tim Tebow Foundation and A21’s Education Curriculum Specialist Valerie Ellery, a veteran educator and best-selling author, will both speak at the workshop. Ancillary children’s activities will be provided during the two-hour presentation. To register, click here.
In addition to the workshop, ArtServe will unveil Rubio’s work Stories, a dark, sprawling, and intricate network of twisted metal and human faces painted on various textured recycled fabrics stretched tight across vise-like frames. Viewers can bring their own piece of cloth to fasten onto pre-made links encircling the structure. The work will be on view in the current “Memories and Revolutions” exhibition to September 23.
“I wanted to create a way that people could relate to the fact that we all have our own personal stories of suffering,” Rubio said. “By attaching their own symbolic piece of cloth to the artwork, their story can become one with those of human trafficking victims, giving us all a way to open up and listen to one another. Our stories of pain and silence have the power to connect us.”
The installation also will include a jumble of shoes on the floor to represent the “unseen” victims of human trafficking, along with a “freedom box” filled with seeds representing the “seeds of injustice” into which guests will be encouraged to step into to experience their “power to sprout and grow into a source of justice for future generations.”
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