Open Menu


  • Tags: Depicting slavery
What You See is Not Who I Am 7.jpg

What You See Is Not Who I Am 7

'What You See Is Not Who I Am' is a portable mural series that was created in 2014 by ArtWorks for Freedom in collaboration with Groundwell's Teen Empowerment Mural Apprentice Program. Lead artist Nicole Schulman and assistant artist Edwin Vazquez worked with 20 young students to research, design and create a 12-panel mural series on modern slavery. The 4ft by 4ft panels are suitable for indoor and outdoor display and have been installed at various locations, including Emory University, George Washington University and George State University. The students learnt about the global epidemic of human trafficking and hoped their work would raise awareness of this phenomenon. The young artist believed this series would inspire others to get involved in the fight against human trafficking and encourage people to report possible incidents of modern slavery. Several of the murals contain the National Human Trafficking Helpline and the final panel tells the public 'Don't close your eyes. Don't walk away'. It asks the public to call the helpline if they witness workers in certain conditions or situations – for example, if workers who live in poor conditions, seem afraid, never speak with you alone and provide scripted answers, bear signs of abuse, and are unpaid or paid very little. The seventh mural in the series appears above – here we have an abstract image of a pair of eyes in front of a factory. The phrase in the centre is covering what appear to be drops of blood and the tired, drawn eyes look to the viewer. The fact that we can only see the person’s eyes, and not the rest of their face, stresses the fact that survivors are often hidden by their enslavement. When reflecting on the project, Raymond Reyes commented that ‘we tried to work using symbols that weren’t too clichéd’ and Maybelline Amaya said that ‘creating this mural was one of the enlightening moments of my life’. Dakota Storm Austin stated that she learned that ‘there is a struggle in each and every corner of this earth’ and Tobi Oniyindi remarked that everyone took this sensitive topic very seriously. The students who were involved are Daijean Aiken, Maybelline Amaya, Dakota Austin, Gustavo Bahena, Kaya Chou-Kudu, Treyshuon Dennis, Marcos Diaz, Juana Euceda, Kaianna Griffith, Nathaniel James, Rosaura Munoz, Stephanie Nan, Tobi Oniyinde, Kyziom Phuntsok, Raymond Reyes, Dustin Chang, Ify Chiejina and Clement Romans.

Almowafak, 9th Hour.jpg

9th Hour: Child Recruitment (grave)

This piece is part of a series of murals led by the artist and activist Murad Subay, which was launched on 4th July 2013. The project discussed twelve political and social issues affecting Yemeni society, such as treason, corruption, civil war and child soldiers. Unfortunately many of the murals were vandalised after their completion. The murals were painted over a year and the artist painted a different topic each month. The murals created for '9th Hour' focused on the recruitment of children as soldiers and highlighted how many children are torn away from their families to die for a cause they don't understand. This particular mural shows a child soldier holding a rifle and walking towards a gravestone, with a arrow showing that child recruitment will lead to death.

Blooming Walls Zambia 2016 1.jpg

#WallsCANBloom Zambia

This piece was part of a series of murals created in 9 countries across Africa. The #WallsCANBloom campaign was launched by the Government of Canada in 2016, whereby the government committed $80 million to ending early and forced marriage in Africa.The murals were created on or around 16th June 2016, which is the International Day of the African Child. Local artists, activists, NGOs, schools and communities were involved in the design and execution of the murals. The pieces were displayed on the buildings of Canadian embassies and High Commissions and unveilings of the murals were accompanied by speeches and events. The campaign had a strong presence on Twitter with #WallsCANBloom.This specific mural was created by students from the school of HSS-MPFA Department of Fine Art at the Zambian Open University. It portrays young girls being offered education instead of marriage and pregnancy, with marriage rings representing handcuffs and the phrase 'say no to early marriage and teen pregnancy'.

Shepard Fairy Covington.jpg

Duality of Humanity

This mural of a child soldier was created by Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant), the artist who is famous for creating the iconic Obama HOPE poster. The image draws parallels between the complex emotions around the Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq. While it does not focus on modern slavery, it includes an element of modern slavery in the form of a child soldier.There was a great amount of controversy surrounding this mural. Michael Claypool, the building's owner, did not review the piece before it was placed onto his wall and he was shocked when it was unveiled. Claypool commented that he felt it was offensive and he hired painters to cover the mural in white paint. Many felt the mural was inappropriate considering it was opposite the John G. Carlisle Elementary School.Shepard Fairey admitted that he did not know that the mural was opposite a school and stated that had he known of the school's presence, he would have altered the piece. However the artist defended his work and commented that he felt it did not encourage violence, but rather did the opposite. The artist created another mural against child soldiers in 2011 as part of the Irvine Contemporary Art Gallery project in Washington D.C.

Banksy Slave Labour.jpg

Slave Labour

This Bansky piece was placed on the side of a Poundland store in Wood Green, London in May 2012. It was created by the infamous artist in protest against the use of sweatshops to create Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics memorabilia in 2012. It features a child crouching on the ground, sewing together bunting with the Union Jack. It has become an iconic image of child labour and child slavery.The mural remained on the wall until February 2013, when it was removed and put up for sale at the Fine Art Auctions in Miami. However, after appeals from residents of Wood Green, the mural was withdrawn the Miami auction and returned to the UK. It was subsequently sold at auction in Convent Garden, London for $1.2million. After the mural was removed, a stencil of Banksy's supposed signature rat holding a sign asking 'why?' was placed on the wall, which was then quickly removed. A Banksy representative stated that this was a fake.

Arts Lords, Say No to Child Marriage 2016.jpg

Say No To Child Marriage 2

This mural is one of two created by artist ArtLords with the help of the Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan. ArtLords frequently creates pieces that make political statements, including asking people to pick up a book not a gun and encouraging a transparent and accountable government. These murals highlight the importance of education for young girls and women, and condemn the practice of forced marriage. In September 2017, forced marriage was recognised as a form of modern slavery and was included in the estimates of people who are enslaved by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). At this time, there were an estimated 15.4 million people in forced marriage, and the vast majority of these are girls and women. Over a third of the people who were forced to marry were children, of whom 40% were below fifteen at the time when marriage took place. 

Missing Stencil Project 2015.jpg

#MissingGirl (portrait)

The organisation MISSING was founded by Leena Kerjriwal and started as a public art project after years of working with NGOs such as Apne Aap, Hamari Muskan and New Light. As an artist, Kejriwal fought against human trafficking by creating installations in galleries that brought up the realities of sex trafficking. She felt that the world needed a new approach to tackling human trafficking and introduced MISSING as a four-part Art As Activism movement through her #MissingGirl stencil campaign.The stencil campaign aimed to raise awareness of human trafficking in local communities and educate people on the issue, as well as helping people thinking about how they can stop modern slavery. Over two years, the campaign has spread beyond India to include six countries and 18 cities, with 2,500 stencils and over 42 million impressions made on people. The campaign continues today and you can find out more here. The stencil is a black silhouette of a young girl. This black hole cut out from the fabric of our environment shows how millions of girls disappear as a result of modern slavery.

Peresutti, Slaves 2015.jpg

Slaves...Other Stories

This mural in Buenos Aires was part of a series organised by Red Mundial Juvenil Argentina, Vínculos en Red and Art Emprende. Painted in a small square Plaza la Victoria, the murals depict different kinds of violence, abuse and exploitation that children and teenagers suffer. On 19th September 2015 an event was held to unveil the murals, with artistic and recreational workshops about child abuse and the maltreatment of children.This piece was completed by antislavery activist Alicia Peressutti, who has written several novels based on the accounts of those who have survived trafficking, prostitution and abuse. She fights to make the stories of these survivors heard and believes this is vital for the eradication of modern slavery.

Bubo 2013.jpg


This graffiti of a child wearing a Walmart uniform was created amid claims that the company was selling timber products with wood supplied through slave labour. A three-month investigation by news outlet Reporter Brasil found that Walmart and Lowe were sourcing the product from companies whose supply chains are contaminated by the alleged use of forced labour. For a full report of the investigation, click here.The piece was placed onto a vacant Walmart store and quickly covered up by city officials.

Child Free Labour Street Art.jpg

Child Labour Free Street Art

This mural was completed as part of the Shoreditch Art Wall and supported the launch of the UK branch of the organisation Child Labour Free. It was revealed on the World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June 2016 alongside the sale of limited edition t-shirts with the designs of the mural. The proceeds of this went to the development of the Child Labour Free child care centre, which helps children in red light districts in Kolkata, India. Child Free Labour selected Victoria Villasana and Zabou to complete the mural. Zabou created the portraits of the two children, one of which can be seen above, and Victoria added the threads to the piece. For more images of the mural, please click here.Victoria is from Mexico and she was chosen because child labour is a strong issue in her country. She stated that 'What I like about Child Labor Free is that they work closely with the families to help them get out of poverty, rather than just stopping retailers from buying from these suppliers. This will help children enjoy better lives that are full of play, rather than just work.'

Imnopi 2016.jpg


This mural was completed in conjunction with the 6th Annual Welling Court Mural Project to raise awareness of child slavery. It is located on 12th Street between Welling Court and 30th Road in Astoria, Queens, NYC. It tells the story of a 7-year old girl who is enslaved and works in a granite quarry near Katmandu, Nepal. Indira and the other children working at the quarry are forced to perform dangerous jobs with little or no safety gear. If they refuse, their employer withholds food from their family.The text that accompanies the mural on the artists website is as follows: Indira works in a granite quarry near Katmandu. She is 7 years old. The granite is sent to Britain to provide stone tiles for patios. Children are paid the equivalent of 25 cents a day to perform tiring and dangerous work with little or no safety gear.. Approximately 32,000 children in Nepal work in stone quarries. Some are as young as 5 years old. Many work besides their parents who are in debt bondage with  little hope of escaping. Some live at the work site which is watched by guards who forbid them from leaving. The children are forced to perform hazardous jobs & if they refuse the employer withholds food from the family. Eradicating child labor from Nepal is difficult because it is fundamental to the economy.

Boston Community, Right to Play 2014.jpg

The Right to Play

The Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA) aims to develop the capacity for leadership in all students, empowering them to make positive contributions to communities. Students worked with teachers, UNICEF representatives, Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) and local mural artists to design and create a mural in the school that focused on child slavery. The students placed emphasis on the idea that while all children should have the right to play, not all get that right. Children's toys are mixed together with work tools that symbolise the industries children are often forced to work in, such as a sewing machine, a factory and a hammer. 

TY Students, 2012.jpg

Child Slavery

After learning about forced child labour and contemporary slavery, 20 students in their Transition Year at Bray College decided to create a mural to raise awareness of this phenomenon. The students were helped by the CSPE & Religion teacher Elaine Brennan and art teacher Clifton Rooney at Presentation College. This mural highlights the different types of slavery, including contract slavery, bondage labour, debt bondage and chattel slavery. On the far right, a hand holds a crumpled contract to symbolise a worker being deceived into slavery through the use of a false employment contract. To the left of this is the silhouette of a hooded figure holding a whip to emphasise the violence and coercion that is inherent in slavery. The mural toured Ireland's schools to teach others about contemporary slavery and raise awareness of this phenomenon. The students also wrote blog posts about their experience in creating this mural, which can be read here.The students also created 'Child Soldiersl', which raises awareness of the use of child soldiers around the world.