Germantown resident Julie Rosen founded The Freedom Gallery for Girls art exhibit to raise awareness about sex slavery around the world.
“I feel like there is an immense potential for visual imagery to be shared,” Rosen said. “Just having it in your consciousness — that’s a seed that’s planted.”
Rosen invited about a dozen artists to participate in her project, which has been traveling as exhibitions in coffee shops and small galleries.
“The bravery and beauty that exists in the face of these injustices are what has always pushed me to create my art,” artist Rachel Bliss said. “It was more of a happy coincidence that my friend Julie was having a show which so perfectly lined up with the issues that I care about and try to represent in my work.”
Rosen said she is in touch with several organizations around the world and is working to coordinate how many groups to work with at one time. The profits from her exhibit in Wayne were split between two organizations supporting women’s rights.
The beneficiaries are Apne Aap, an organization in India serving survivors, and Room to Read, which focuses on literacy and equal access to education. Rosen said she hopes to add a third, more local beneficary to the list.
Along with coordinating the exhibitions, Rosen works with the Nationality Services Center, which works with refugees.
Rosen’s firsthand experience with refugees allowed her to find ways to communicate using art, allowing the refugees to express their experiences visually.
The Freedom Gallery for Girls is reflective of this concept, allowing artists to portray the international sex trade in a way that starts a conversation without actually saying a word.
“My figures carry the emotional burden of humanism, Bliss said. “I’m interested in creating a dialogue. […] My paintings often tell stories about contemporary culture, interpersonal relationships, or community problems.”
Inspired by Rosen’s work, Cornelia Kietzman, owner of Six Senses Clay Studio, created her own initiative alongside Rosen’s gallery. Her idea is to create 1,000 clay bunny sculptures to display in galleries throughout Philadelphia.
Her project specifically invites younger girls, from summer camps and throughout her Mt. Airy neighborhood, to come paint clay bunnies and learn about the power women have.
“It’s a powerful thing to get girls to help girls,” Kietzman said. “We talk about girls ‘at risk,’ it’s a very gentle approach, but we tell them they are powerful to change another girls life, in this country and in another country.”