On March 7th I was casually seeking something to do to spend my Saturday. I had been dealing with artist block for the last couple weeks, and naturally was keen to do something inspiring!
I came across artist Molly Gochman’s event, The Red Sand Project. Where the Houston community was invited to head out and pour red sand in sidewalk cracks all over the city. This was not an awareness play on the horrific conditions of Houston’s sidewalks, but rather a brilliant, artistic activist movement.
While many who hear “Sex Trafficking” think of the movie Taken, or recognise it as an isolated South East Asian issue, the reality is “Slavery is not legal anywhere but happens EVERYWHERE”
In America alone, it is a reported $9.8 billion dollar industry, where 100,000 American children are put into prostitution every year. (Source: Covenant House) Scary isn’t it?
The big question is of course, “how does this happen?”
This is where Molly’s brilliant artistic concept comes in….
There are various vulnerabilities that children face in their lives that lead them to “falling through the cracks” Molly’s project is aimed to make the public mindful that we cannot ‘mind the gap’, as they are at the highest risk in being targeted for trafficking.
So while we spent the day filling in sidewalk cracks on the public streets of Houston, something amazing happened. Curious pedestrians began asking us questions, “What is this for?” “Why are you doing this?” Being a part of this incredible project allowed us to engage with complete strangers, offering education and awareness on the cause. One simply couldn’t just casually stop a random stranger on the street and start chatting their ear off about child prostitution without a complete petrified reaction. This was a subtle, and artistic way to generate conversation with the public on such a dark topic.
The reactions from the public were beautiful. “Wow!” “I never knew it was a problem in Houston!” “Where can I learn more?” “How can I help?”
This weekend event was followed by another community generated installation where Houstonians got together and filled in a large dug up crack in Midtown. Over time, the grass will begin to grow over the scar shaped gash. The mayor of Houston declared March 11th Red Sand Project Day to honour the effort of this initiative.
“Art offers an opportunity to soften and reflect, which can result in people becoming more empathetic. Empathy is essential for pushing progressive cultural change.” – Molly Gochman
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