Survivor Empowerment: SEAD Gallery and Bookshop Presents Illuminate Curator Talk

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SEAD Gallery and Bookshop will host Monica Watkins and Jerry Chu, founders of Beauty for Freedom, for a Curator Talk about their recently published photography book, Illuminate. The event will run from 6:30 – 8pm on Nov. 7.

Beauty for Freedom’s mission is to “empower survivors through art,” giving survivors of human trafficking a voice through creative therapy workshops. These workshops, taught by a team of artists, cover not only photography, but painting, music theory, fashion, health and wellness, and mural painting, all to promote self-esteem and self-expression. Illuminate is a product of these workshops and its pages are filled with photographs shot by young survivors of human trafficking in Kolkata, India. The goal of creating Illuminate was to both raise awareness about the cause, and more importantly to strengthen and inspire the youth that Beauty for Freedom works with.

The photos that fill Illuminate are taken in Kalighat, a neighborhood in South Kolkata, India, where many of the survivors were born and raised. The young photography students were welcomed into the daily lives of the locals where they were able to capture these beautiful, personal moments that were juxtaposed with the visibility of the red-light district’s intergenerational horrors of sex trafficking, violence, and prostitution. Illuminate has a transcendent quality that engages the viewer to see beyond the difficult circumstances surrounding life in Kalighat and leaves us all with a lasting impression that love truly exists in this place and that life is not as polarizing as one might think, given the fact that creativity, culture and pride thrive in Kalighat.

SEAD Gallery is located in the Federal Building at 216 W. 26th Street in Historic Downtown Bryan. SEAD Gallery provides a unique downtown venue for arts and cultural exchange. Through exhibits and events, Advent GX seeks to encourage innovation and discover new ways to understand and positively impact local communities and the world.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit, and follow SEAD Gallery on Facebook to stay up to date.