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College of Arts and Humanities

Art Club Raises Awareness for Human Trafficking Via Red Sand Project


A Human Trafficking Info Graphic steady stream of red sand will begin to appear in sidewalk cracks across the Central Washington University campus starting at noon on January 13, outside the west SURC entrance.

Through a methodical campaign called the Red Sand Project, CWU Student Art Club hopes to raise awareness of human trafficking. “Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked every day,” said student art club vice president Hailey McGraw. “People tend to think they’re adults and teenagers, but it’s children too.”

Each week more sand-filled cracks will continue to spread throughout campus, while posters that were designed by McGraw are strategically placed. As time progresses and the environmentally-safe sand begins to spread throughout campus, the poster messaging will become more and more impactful.

The project will continue through spring quarter, culminating in a panel discussion about trafficking.

Bringing the project to CWU was the idea of Ellen Avitts, associate professor of art history and the art club advisor. Avitts became aware of the issue when, through a journal assignment, she discovered that one of her students was a survivor of human trafficking.

“I was really blown away at that and realized, man, am I living in a bubble,” said Avitts.

This new reality stuck with Avitts and moved her to research the topic, but she didn’t know what she could do. That was until this past fall, when she met with the art club to discuss their goals for the year. After sharing the Red Sand Project

 idea, the club unanimously agreed.

“Rather than just making it (art), it was making art with a purpose,” said McGraw.

McGraw has seen the club membership grow significantly since they decided to take on this project and credits the increase to people’s desire to make a difference.

Students from other clubs are invited to join the art club in spreading sand throughout campus. All students are encouraged to join the project by helping in the campaign or researching the topic on their own. To join the project, contact art club advisor Ellen Avitts at avittse@cwu.edu.

The original Red Sand Project was created by experimental artist and activist Molly Gochman in Houston, Texas in 2014 and has spread nationwide.

Media contact: Dawn Alford, public affairs coordinator, 509-963-1484, dawn.alford@cwu.edu.

 

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