Sarasota groups work to empower survivors of trafficking

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) — The arts, whether visual or performing, have been hailed by doctors and educators as a healing activity that stimulates the mind and allows individuals to channel their emotions. A non-profit organization has partnered with a local artist to help change the lives of those affected by human trafficking. Coming March 31, an art exhibit dedicated to displaying the pieces of these brave survivors will be held in Sarasota.

According to the US State Department, trafficking affects an estimated 24.9 million victims worldwide at any given time. These victims are often sexually exploited and forced to work.

Those who escape often struggle with trauma, anger, depression and other hardships. They often feel stigmatized and Dawn Sakes, executive director of non-profit organization Move Too Life.

Move Too Life works with survivors of trafficking, most of whom are between 10 and 24 years old. The goal isn’t just to change the narrative, the group strives to turn survivors into successful citizens.

“Our mission is to inspire and change people and transform culture for a better world,” Sakes said.

The organization approached Sarasota artist Marie Thérèse Lacroix, owner of Art by Lacroix Studio. They brainstormed together to find a resource for their clients and created the “Healing Through Art” project.

“As you know, art can be very healing,” Sakes said. The art classes and exhibit were a logical leap.

LaCroix’s work is well known around the Suncoast and she loves and is known for her use of vibrant color.

LaCroix spends her time working with these survivors not only teaching the basics of art like color theory and perspective, she also teaches her students to channel emotions and tell stories with the art they create. She also wants to create a safe space for everyone involved.

“The moment they came to see me they were like, ‘Oh Marie, it’s so relaxing here.’ And they automatically became very open, friendly and relaxed,” Lacroix explained.

As they create, survivors can explain their own perspective on the trauma they endured. That’s exactly what art is supposed to do, the two men agreed.

“You’re just free from everything,” La Croix said.

On March 31, More Too Life and Marie Lacroix will hold an event to discuss their collaboration and exhibit paintings.

The event is free in downtown Sarasota from 6-8 p.m. and will be held at Art by Lacroix Studio. Drinks and light appetizers will be served.

A portion of the proceeds from all paintings sold will be donated to More Too Life.

Attendance is free, but attendees are encouraged to RSVP via Eventbrite.

MoreTooLife Global:

Art by Lacroix:

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