Friday, April 1, 2016

Artworks for Freedom teams with Truckers Against Trafficking

Images of human trafficking still torment Kay Chernush.

The founder and artistic director of ArtWorks for Freedom witnessed numerous instances of human trafficking while working as a professional photographer.

"I'm haunted by many of the faces of the victims and the experiences they've encountered," Chernush said.

Those images prompted Chernush to make ending human trafficking her mission.

ArtWorks for Freedom teamed with Truckers Against Trafficking during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., to educate truck drivers about the atrocities that are occurring throughout the United States.

"Truck drivers are often the first line of defense," Chernush said. "They're out there. They see what's going on.

"I love that Truckers Against Trafficking is enlisting drivers and trucking industry people in the cause," Chernush said. "I have long admired what TAT has been doing to educate and change the status quo though the trucking industry. As a professional photographer, I did many assignments with truckers and at truck stops, but like most of them, I wasn't aware of human trafficking back then. TAT is making a concrete difference."

As part of ArtWorks for Freedom's plan to raise awareness, the group premiered an art project called Golden Doors to Freedom at MATS. The art project, which allowed MATS attendees to sign the door and include their own expressions on trafficking, was led by master gilder William Adair. The project turns abandoned doors into freedom portals for communal focus on human trafficking.

"We want people to realize that there is power when a community comes together around a complex issue like human trafficking," Chernush said. "Taking an old, battered, discarded door and turning it into a beautiful work of art tells us about our own capacity to change perceptions and create empathy in the place of indifference. It becomes a visual symbol of our commitment to take action to end human trafficking."

Kendis Paris, the Truckers Against Trafficking executive director, said the art project will direct more attention to the cause.

"Kay's and Bill's project is so unique, and the trucking industry is so on the front lines of this issue that I believe the resulting doors will be powerful," Paris said.

Anyone who sees what they believe is an instance of trafficking is encouraged to call 1-888-373-7888. For more information, go to truckersagainsttrafficking.org.