GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There are girls as young as 11 years old being forced into a frightening life of human trafficking, and that reality sparked artwork to garner more help.
Cassandra Burgess’ three-dimensional ArtPrize Nine entry, Fenced In, is a Final 20 piece inside the main floor of The B.O.B. It features a young girls with innocently piercing eyes, gazing through a metal fence. The girl’s hand is three dimensional and clasps the fence.
“That’s why the hand is separated,” Burgess explained to 24 Hour News 8, “because you feel like you’re helping hand is disconnected.”
It’s how Burgess said she felt when she learned of a blossoming human trafficking issue in the California area.
“My safety bubble kind of popped,” she said.
The Sacramento artist went on a mission to learn more, specifically how she could help. In her search, she was connected with Courage Worldwide. It’s a California-based nonprofit that helps young girls rescued from sex trafficking. Her artistic talents now work hand in hand with their mission.
“Most people think it’s in third world countries, but it’s hard to believe that it’s, like, here in Grand Rapids. It’s where I live in Sacramento,” Burgess said.
She traveled from California to the Courage Worldwide rescue home in Africa — visiting twice over the last year.
“I came there [to Africa], and oh my gosh, did they know how to love,” she said.
“[I] met those girls [and] hung out with them. [I] taught them how to paint. They taught me how to dance because I don’t know how to dance. They were really good dancers, and they just changed my life forever,” she continued.
Her life was changed, but she said that a win at ArtPrize Nine would change many more lives.
“If I win, then I take the money and I’m going to buy those girls a new house to rescue more girls. That’s why I got really pumped,” she said talking about being named a public vote finalist.
Burgess said there’s been tears as people read more into what her entry is about. Lots of visitors asked how they can help.