Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) hosted a virtual “Ask the Artist” event to discuss Sarah Serio’s exhibit “The Game in Three Parts: Human Trafficking in America.” The event was hosted on a Zoom meeting Friday Jan 15th at 6 PM. The exhibit is open to the public and currently located in the Bicknell Family Center for Performing Arts and will be available until Jan 31st. For those who would prefer to stay inside or cannot go see it physically, there is a link available to watch a virtual tour on YouTube.
“The turnout for the Ask the Artist event was low, probably in part that school wasn’t back in session and that we recorded it to show it later,” said Stephanie Spitz, Campus Victim Advocate and advisor of SVP. “There were a lot of details that went into planning the event from coordinating the art exhibit with the Bicknell Center, to making sure the artist was comfortable both with the display and answering audience questions, to finding ways to talk about human trafficking in a non-judgmental, low-pressure space. We’re all here to learn from one another and to find more ways to support survivors in our community.”
At the event, Serio discussed her artwork, her inspiration for the exhibit on human trafficking, and how she became interested in learning and sharing information on human trafficking.
“The most impactful part of the exhibit for me are all of the photos. Looking into the eyes of the victims portrayed in her art is chilling and sticks with me. For the discussion, I learned so much about printmaking and the efforts behind creating such a powerful exhibit of a taboo topic,” Spitz said.
Serio uses the art medium print. In the prints she depicts visuals of individuals to showcase the reality of human trafficking on victims.
“I think her work is incredible, I didn’t realize at first that she didn’t paint her artwork and that it was done via printing, so I was very impressed to hear how much goes into the process of making just one print let alone an entire collection,” said Megan Woodfield, Violence Prevention graduate assistant and co-advisor for Students for Violence Prevention
Serio’s art also focuses on male victims, showing how men can be victims of human trafficking, the pain in their faces, and what that looks like for them. Men and boys are least likely to come forward as victims of sexual assault and harassment, these crimes are under reported. Human trafficking of men and boys are also underreported and not talked about as much in media or in real life.
Serio’s prints show images from a profile of an individual with pain in their expression to victims being harmed or the after affects of what these crimes can do to them. The prints show images of men and women being victims of trafficking by both male and female perpetrators alike. A quote from the online gallery says, “Human trafficking does not discriminate, it just exploits.” Her prints show the truth in this quote by representing a variety of victims and abusers. Many victims of trafficking are children or women running from violence, which Serio depicts in her work.
“I think the exhibit is very powerful…,” Woodfield said. “…One thing that really stood out to me was how much research she puts into make sure that the portraits of trafficking in her work is accurate to what trafficking survivors experience.”
Serio’s gallery will continue to be available to view in person until January 31st and is on YouTube.