by Joe Bollig
LEAWOOD — Human trafficking — the exploitation of vulnerable persons for prostitution or slave-like labor — thrives in the darkness of secrecy and indifference.
But one artist is choosing to bring this evil to light through the medium of colorful works of art in glass.
Internationally acclaimed artist Hasna Sal, now residing in Overland Park, has created 13 wall sculptures in glass now on display at St. Michael the Archangel Parish, 143rd Street and Nall, Leawood.
The free art exhibit, “Into the Light: Stories of People of the Park,” is on display from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until July 22 in the church’s lower narthex art gallery. The theme of the exhibit is: “Human Trafficking.”
The sculptures are inspired by the stories of women and youth enslaved, bought and sold in the worldwide web of human trafficking. The works express universal stories of isolation, brokenness, desolation, hope and redemption, according to Kevin Vogt, director of sacred liturgy, music and art at St. Michael.
To visit the gallery, go through the main doors of the church in the courtyard between the church and the school. From the narthex (main vestibule), take the stairs or the elevator to the lower level.
The exhibition will close with a “Meet the Artist” reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on July 22, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Sal is the recent winner of the Doge International Award at the Venice Art Biennale in Italy, and was a featured artist at the Cannes Film Festival in France and New York Fashion Week.
Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City is sponsoring a concurrent silent auction of the exhibited works to raise funds for a public art memorial for victims of human trafficking. The memorial will be placed in Lykins Square Park in Kansas City, Missouri.
“Whereas the narrative of the park sculptures involves a story of redemption through faith — the church going into the park — the current exhibit is inspired by the stories and experiences of those who have been brought low and broken,” said Vogt, “the stories of people of the park being brought to the church, who, like a loving mother, listens to the suffering of her children, and who — like the Lord — hears the cry of the poor.”
To view the 13 works in the exhibit and to participate in the silent auction, go to the parish website at: stmichaelcp.org/gallery-exhibition.