Healing through art: Sarasota groups work to empower trafficking survivors

More Too Life and artist Marie Therese Lacroix are organizing an exhibit to showcase survivor art
ABC7 News at 4:30pm
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 12:53 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The arts, be they visual or performing, have been lauded by doctors and educators as a healing activity that stimulates the mind and allows individuals to channel emotions. A nonprofit organization has teamed up with a local artist to help change lives of those affected by human trafficking. Coming up on March 31, an art show dedicated to displaying pieces by these brave survivors will be held in Sarasota.

According to the U.S. Department of State, trafficking affects an estimated 24.9 million victims worldwide at any given time. These victims are often sexually exploited and forced into labor.

Those who escape frequently struggle with trauma, anger, depression and other trials. They often feel stigmatized and Dawn Sakes, executive director of the nonprofit organization Move Too Life.

Move Too Life works with trafficking survivors, most are between the ages of 10-24. The goal is to not only change the narrative, the group strives to turn survivors into thriving citizens.

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

The organization approached Sarasota-based artist Marie Therese Lacroix, owner of Art by Lacroix Studio. They put their heads together to figure out 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 was a logical jump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The event is free in downtown Sarasota from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be held at Art by Lacroix Studio. Drinks and light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

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

There is no cost to attend, but it’s recommended that participants R.S.V.P. for a spot via Eventbrite.

MoreTooLife Global: https://www.facebook.com/MoreTooLifeGlobal

Art by Lacroix: https://www.facebook.com/Artbylacroix

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