Art and the Communication of Social Issues: A Journey to Fight Human Trafficking

By Kimberly A. Selber.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Human tragedy occurs on all continents but can be observed in microcosm along the eastern border of India in the state of West Bengal adjacent to neighboring Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. Jessore Road, the ancient trade route from Kolkata (Calcutta), serves as a primary trafficking and child exploitation conduit. Along this road, and in the surrounding villages and borderlands, can be found both the causes and effects of this human predation—poverty, unemployment, limited educational opportunities, and government indifference.
The Jessore Road Project began as a photographic documentation of human movement and commercial traffic along an international corridor revealing villagers, their landscapes and market places--emporiums of goods and services, and bazaars of humanity.
“The Jessore Road: Journey to Fight Human Trafficking” exhibition, lecture series, and subsequent publication all use documentary photography in a unique way, to draw in viewers and listeners, hailing them to pay attention to human rights violation.
The purpose of this paper is to present a theoretical underpinning for the use of non-victim imagery, images that do not expoit the situation but celebrate the person, to engage an audience in emotional immediacy, message retention, and action. This theoretical section is then followed by a discussion of Jessore Road project, designed to call people to action against human trafficking.
Using art to communicate social issues is not new. There are numerous organizations, such as Fifty Crows, whose sole purpose is to use art to begin dialogue. Here, however, the discussion begins not with the question, Can art be used to communicate social issues? but, rather, How does it communicate? Further, can it enable praxis: theory married to and followed by action.

Keywords: Social Justice, Photography, Human Trafficking, Arts & Human Rights

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.9-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.143MB).

Dr. Kimberly A. Selber

Assistant Professor, Journalism, Advertising, Department of Communication, The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX, USA

Kimberly Selber is an assistant professor at The University of Texas-Pan American. Her research interests are in Advertising: Art Direction, Creative Theory, Advertising History and Branding. She is also an award winning graphic designer and photographer, receiving international, national and regional recognition.

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