ArtWorks for Freedom campaigns raise awareness of human trafficking in local cities, towns and regions and empower local activist partners to raise the visibility of their work.

We are honored to share reflections from three of our past partners about the ripple effects of our campaigns in their communities. Here, we share the story of our partnership with Mark Sullivan at Michigan State University.

From Left: Jane White, Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force; Mark Sullivan, professor & anti-trafficking activist; Kay Chernush, ArtWorks for Freedom at Michigan State University.


MARK SULLIVAN is a composer and associate professor and director of the computer music studios at the Michigan State University College of Music. For the past 30 years, Mark has worked actively to relate art to social justice issues. After reading an article on human trafficking by New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristoff, he began to look for ways to introduce the issue to the MSU community through music. He dreamed about commissioning an original piece of music with an anti-trafficking theme that could then be taught to his students in the jazz studies program. With a personal donation from the university president, Mark was able to work with famed jazz composer Billy Childs to create an original work.


With the success of the jazz composition, Mark furthered his involvement in anti-trafficking work and became a leader within the MSU community working on the issue. In an effort to bring more art that addresses human trafficking to the campus, Mark found out about ArtWorks for Freedom and organized a university-wide campaign in conjunction with the Michigan State University College of Law and Global Center. The four-week campaign included exhibitions of ArtWorks’ photo exhibits and a keynote presentation, “At the Intersection of Art & Human Rights: A Photographer’s Fight Against Modern Day Slavery.”

Images from

Images from “Bought and Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking” on display at the Michigan State University College of Law, February & March, 2015.


Mark constantly seeks ways to introduce people to artists as a way of learning about human trafficking and other human rights issues, and continues to make those connections as a member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. He also works with a free legal clinic and a center in Detroit that helps women who are homeless or at a high risk avoid violence, teen pregnancy and exploitation. Known as “the art guy” on the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, Mark believes art helps tell stories in ways that have a dramatic impact on people. As he sees it, art helps “break the walls of isolation” so that people can experience what trafficked persons have endured. The art helps “trafficked persons feel as if they are no longer invisible, but their stories are told with dignity.”

Thanks to Mark Sullivan and all of our partners for bringing ArtWorks for Freedom to their local communities. Interested in partnering with ArtWorks? CONTACT US and let’s get started!