The True Stories Project: Oakland, California and Kathmandu, Nepal

The True Stories Project: Oakland, California and Kathmandu, Nepal

1024 683 Art Works for Change

The True Stories Project: Oakland, California and Kathmandu, Nepal

Debbie, age 15, wakes up at 5:00 a.m. and begins working the streets of Oakland. By 5:30, she is turning tricks or meeting johns through the Internet. Her workday ends at 2:30 a.m. the next morning. Debbie is one of tens of thousands of young American girls and boys who have been abducted or lured to become sex slaves.

According to the FBI, more than 100,000 children are sold for sex in the United States each year. They range in age from 9 to 19, with the average age in Oakland being just 12 years old. According to the FBI, human sex trafficking has become the fastest growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.

It is a global phenomenon. Sita, age 15, is from a small village in Nepal devastated by the 2015 earthquake. Displaced and vulnerable, she was targeted by human traffickers supplying a network of brothels across South Asia. An estimated 15,000 Nepali girls are sexually trafficked each year.

Their stories and others are told in this exhibition as a means to create awareness and stop the abuse. The exploitation and abuse of one gender by another — or of the powerless by the powerful — continues only because it remains hidden. By exposing it to the light of public awareness, such abuse can be seen as the vicious and ugly thing that it is. Only by bringing sex trafficking to the surface, out of the shadows, can we facilitate its demise.

About the Project

Through a series of interactive workshops over a 6-month period, Art Works for Change, in collaboration with the Kathmandu-based Siddhartha Gallery and Foundation, used the arts and storytelling to help empower young victims of sex trafficking and those at-risk for exploitation, both boys and girls, in Oakland, California, USA and Kathmandu, Nepal.

The project has since grown into an exhibition that includes artwork produced by the project, along with internationally-renown artists whose work resonates with the themes of exploitation and empowerment.

Exhibition Venues

Patan Museum, Kathmandu, Nepal | July 13-31, 2017

Please contact us at: if you are interested in hosting the exhibition.

Participating Artists and Organizations

Marilyn Minter, Lin Tianmiao, Hung Liu, Parastou Forouhar, Nabin Baral, Thomas L. Kelly, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, Lava Thomas, Cate White, Era and Don Farnsworth; Grassroots Girls Book Club, Hit Man Gurung, Stacy Leigh, AWARE/OWARE Game for Female Empowerment, Natalie Naccache, Sheelasha Raibhandari, The Ugly Truth Campaign, Gabriela Morawetz, Girls Inc, Siddhartha Gallery, and others

Project Goals

The goals for the exhibition are to:

  • Challenge popular myths about prostitution and sex trafficking
  • Demonstrate that this is both a local and global issue.
  • Raise awareness of the root causes of exploitation
  • Create empathy for victims’ stories
  • Foster a dialogue about the problem and its possible solutions
  • Inspire victims and survivors to be empowered with new behavioral choices
About Partnering Organizations

Art Works For Change is a nonprofit organization that creates contemporary art exhibitions to address critical social and environmental issues. Our museum-quality exhibitions are hosted by fine art institutions all over the world, and feature artists whose work promotes awareness, provokes dialogue and inspires action.

Siddhartha Gallery and Arts Foundation works inside the Nepali community with the mission to place arts, culture and creativity at the heart of learning, increase community participation through the arts, and create exhibitions, workshops and cross-cultural programming and dialogues. They are the organizer of the Kathmandu Triennale and its satellite educational programs.

Media Coverage of The True Stories Project

View inaugural remarks and media coverage of the exhibition by multiple media outlets.