Sures panel



An exhibition of the Kay Chernush Virtual Gallery | 30 July 2023 – 30 June 2024

Curatorial statement

Helen C. Frederick and Kate Somers

In Transit: The Body as Currency, the inaugural exhibition of the Kay Chernush Virtual Gallery, features nineteen artists whose work speaks to the complexities of human trafficking — both personal and systemic — in a visceral appeal for action against this brutal crime. Some of the works were created specifically for this show, while earlier pieces were selected for their thematic relevance. But the common thread that runs through the presented works is the artists’ intention to expose the many guises of trafficking and exploitation — how human bodies are moved as currency in all parts of the world.

The artists have approached the subject with diverse techniques and sources of inspiration, but they share an awareness of this inhumane practice — whether based on experience or observation and research — that has fueled in them a desire to draw attention to human trafficking and use their art as a catalyst for change. Taken together, the work in this expansive, multimedia exhibition is simultaneously an assertion of the preciousness of all human life and a reminder of the ultimate cost of our inattention to its value: the commodification of individuals and the degradation of our shared humanity.

Helen C. Frederick
Kate Somers

The Kay Chernush Virtual Gallery is an immersive experience from ArtWorks for Freedom that gives visitors from around the world access to a professionally curated selection of original art exploring the complexities of human trafficking. Gallery visitors can engage with a wide range of drawings, paintings, films, videos, murals, performances, textiles, and conceptual artworks that fight stigmatization and elevate the voices of survivors.

About Kay Chernush

Internationally acclaimed photographer and activist Kay Chernush (1944–2022) founded ArtWorks for Freedom in 2011 after being introduced to the issue of human trafficking while on assignment for the U.S. Department of State. Working with human rights organizations, Kay documented people being trafficked and exploited for labor. As she learned more about their lives, she became determined to use her art to bring attention to this global crime. She found inspiration for a larger movement in ArtWorks for Freedom — to create, support, and activate art that exposes the complexities of human trafficking with honesty and with respect and compassion for survivors.

Gallery Team

Helen C. Frederick and Kate Somers, Co-curators

Erika Lessey, Gallery Developer

Michelle Mariano, ArtWorks for Freedom Executive Director