Typography of Women: I Am Not Invisible

(*readers.. due to the current mandate by the state of NY because of the Corona Virus ( COVID  this event has been postponed and will be rescheduled stay tuned for updated info on the rescheduling of this event and associated  events ) 

Typography of Women: I Am Not Invisible, is a call to action. 

I AM NOT INVISIBLE”: On the cover pictured far right   Kelly Diane Galloway and Celeste Lawson (blue dress). Also from the top, Row 1:  Melinda Capeles, Venecia “Goodness” Green, Barbara Carr, Gaitrie Subryan, Natasha Perkins, Gunilla Kester, Samantha Cruz,  Dayatra Hassan, Sara Rogers, Lorna C. Hill. Row 2: Drea d’Nur, Verneice Turner, Robin Hibbert, Rhianna Rogers , MARY MORAN, Dana “Roxy” Harris , Dana Fischer, Naila Ansari. Row 3  Kathleen Betsko, Vonetta Rhodes, Ilana lane, Katherine Lavin, Kerry Kate Abelsmith, Virginia Batchelor. Row 4: Michele Agosto, Neytanya Thompson, Nayury Faber.

 Explosive,  honest, poetic, musical, visually exciting and inspiring, this unique artistic project is   meant to honor the strength of   women who found the means and courage to break away from their human traffickers in the quest to have a second chance at living a life of promise rather than living day-to-day in pain and fear. 

Celeste Lawson, creator, producer, and co-artistic director of Typography of Women, has assembled a team of some of the most recognized and talented women in our community to tell the stories of a brave group of women who found their way to Project Mona’s House –  a transitional residence for women who escaped human trafficking and are trying to rebuild their lives. It is the only such facility in Western New York. 

They are women who are willing to share their experiences and feelings through prose, poetry, and the visual arts. They entrusted their written expressions to Lawson, who in turn transcribed and transformed their words into a manuscript and full stage production that was originally schedule for March 21  in Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College has been postponed due to the current Corona Virus and State Mandates to halt public events that will attract more than 500 people. A New Date will be announced soon.  

The forthcoming  performance features the talent of dancer/choreographer and co-artistic director Robin Hibbert, the lush and healing sounds of singer/composer  Drea D’Nur, a collaborator on creating the production, and the dramatic skills of 11 actors – nine women and two men – and nine accomplished dancers representing an array of genres and traditions. 

 There are special guest appearances by Sara Rogers of Girl Crush, Daughters of Creative Sound and choreographer, William E. Thomas.  The performance is bookended by two art exhibits that opened earlier this month at WNED studios and CEPA gallery that run respectively until March 27th and April 4th, and lastly, a forum and panel discussion on Sunday, March 22nd at the Burchfield Penney Art Center facilitated and presented by a collection of scholars, researchers, and legal industry professionals who work directly with human trafficking victims and perpetrators.  The exhibits were coordinated and installed by the WNY Urban Art Collective and Los Artistas del Barrio (LAdB) under the leadership of John Baker and Michele Agosto. Lawson acknowledges that none of this would be possible without the blessing of Project Mona’s House founder and executive director, Kelly Diane Galloway.

“This is a passion project for me,” states Lawson. “For more than twenty years I’ve carried the desire to find a way to use the cultural arts to tell the story of human trafficking in an inspirational way, and give voice to the voiceless – well, at least one form of human trafficking.”  She continues, “trafficking comes in many different forms from commercial sex, to online trafficking, forced labor, and now organ harvesting.”     

According to the Polaris Project, the national watch organization against Human Trafficking, there are   44 million people worldwide caught in the clutches of this form of modern day slavery.  Human Trafficking is a global crisis situation she points out,  and  the Buffalo Niagara Region has a very real  human trafficking problem. 

 “It is not a crime of the inner city,” Ms. Lawson  points out. “Trafficking takes place in upscale suburban neighborhoods, in city apartments, in rural farm communities, in schools and in foster care. There is no geographic exemption for human trafficking, and no specific profile of a trafficking criminal.”

      Locally, human trafficking incidents have taken place in Lancaster, Orchard Park, Elmwood Village, Cheektowaga, and metro Buffalo, just to name a few.

Consider these facts:

•The United States is both the largest consumer and exporter of human trafficking in the world. 

•Over 70 percent of trafficking victims are American citizens who have been abducted, deceived, or betrayed and forced into the human trade business

•70 percent of human commerce consumers

The  average age of victims in the commercial sex trade ranges from 11 years to 14 years old but, can be and are often, much younger. n Online trafficking is growing in leaps and bounds and affects primarily young teens. It’s been documented  that a child is worth about $300,000 a year to a trafficker, and the average lifespan of a child caught up in trafficking is only about 7 years before they succumb to death, either by addiction, violence, illness, or suicide. 

“ The women of Project Mona’s House all have a different story but are all grounded in the same dark mire of deception, coercion, and betrayal,” pointed out Lawson. “They come from all walks of life, diverse ethnicities, and a range of social, educational, and economic status. They are all at least 18 years old and may have suffered the trauma of trafficking for only a few months to many years, perhaps even most of their lives up until this point. They are fighting for their lives. They want to have a future free from fear and open to opportunities to achieve personal goals.”

In addition to bringing awareness and support to the fight against Human Trafficking, and promoting the work of Project Mona’s House, Typography of Women is meant to be a vehicle that shares information on the ways we, as a community, can do our part to deter human trafficking in our region. 

“Kelly Diane often uses a phrase in her public presentations,” concluded Celeste, ‘The eye won’t see what the brain doesn’t know what to look for.’ The aspiration of Typography of Women is to help everyone learn and understand more about recognizing the signals, symptoms, and circumstances that could be a trafficking situation.  Everyone is invited and welcome to join the fight against this crime inflicted on humanity. We all need to know and we all need to understand it can happen to anybody!”

 

Please Note that Typography of Women: I Am Not Invisible Events Dates and Times Below are Now Pending due to the Postponement and Rescheduling of the Main event 

•WNED Horizons Art Gallery 140 Lower Terrace   – now thru March 27 Free and open to the public. ( please contact gallery to find out about this access)

•CEPA Gallery, 617 Main Street, Market Arcade – now through April 4 Free and open to the public (please contact gallery to find out about this access)

•Main Event Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, live performance – .  Tickets $40 available at (716) 878.3005 or online at https://buffalostatepac.org/calendar/all-events/event:i-am-not-invisible/ (please contact event presenters to find out about new date and time of this rescheduled  production )

•Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Avenue – Sunday, March 22nd, 1p.m. community discussion, panel and screening of “Sold Next Door” by Pan American Film Division and excerpts from the Saturday live performance. Free and open to the public. ( please contact the center to find out about this access and if panel will happen)

For more information: (716)374.1740  or email 

typographyofwoman@gmail.com or visit

https://thebuffaloproject.wixsite.com/tbpinternship/project-mona 

Typography of Women: I Am Not Invisible is made possible with a grant from the MAP Fund supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Rigidized Metals, Erie County Legislature Chairperson, April Baskin, and The Buffalo Project, along with friends from Just Buffalo Literary Center, CEPA Gallery, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Arts Services Initiative, WNED, Minute Printing, and Buffalo Spree.

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