an installation on trafficking

Since 2003 I have been creating mosaic murals with disadvantaged kids in Brazil, street kids in Cambodia and India, and orphans and handicapped boys in Sri Lanka. In 2011, during my time in Cambodia, I became aware of the magnitude of human trafficking - both sex trafficking and slave labor trafficking - and the brutality which is part of it. I also became aware of the huge increase in trafficking in the U.S. in recent years. This has inspired me to create an art installation to raise awareness on this issue.

The installation is called "SAFE?" and consists of thirty paintings of children from Brazil, India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. There is small banner made by young women in Cambodia with the title of the show on it. And there is one painting sized plaque saying : These kids are probably safe, but 2 million kids just like them will be trafficked into the sex and slave labor industry in the next 12 months.

Videos, books, and fact sheets and information about organizations involved in this issue can also be part of the installation.

The intent is to exhibit this at school galleries as well as other appropriate public spaces. Since the students are the same age and slightly older than those in the world who are most at risk it would help them to recognize and understand this issue.

As in much of my previous political art work the brutality I am addressing lies under the surface. In this piece the visual art is just paintings of kids, some laughing, some serious, but all beautiful kids. It is the conceptual basis of the work that is so brutal. It is always my hope that the beauty of the artwork will open a person's heart to be able to let in the underlying issues. The paintings are also my way of honoring these kids, who have had and will continue to have difficult lives.

A good story in the Greenfield Recorder about the SAFE? exhibit at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in --- to the SAFE? story


Boston State House September 2017
Holyoke Community College Summer 2013
Stoneleigh-Burnam School January and February 2013
Springfield College September 2012
Pictures of a selection of the paintings
All paintings Oil on Canvas
sizes vary from 20"x30" to 32"x40"

to the kids' mosaics page
to the Witness to Violence page
return to the Robert Markey home page