‘In You We Trust’ exhibit: Money can’t buy back innocence

There are some things money can’t buy. One of them is innocence. 

Sex trafficking is an issue not commonly discussed, but it’s a bigger issue in Dallas than many people know. Many times, the victims are not adults, but minors.

According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth Education Program, 2,254 homeless students were enrolled in DISD schools in 2014-2015. A report from the National District Attorneys Association says one-third of homeless teens living on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. 

What can be done to bring awareness to the community?  Professors Jennifer Rose and Marian Lefeld have taken a step to bring awareness to the issue here at Richland.

Rose and Lefeld created “In You We Trust,” an art project designed to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking. They received a grant from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and want to make the biggest impact possible. 

The exhibit will feature 2,000 palm-sized gold coins representing each child involved in Dallas sex trafficking. The coins symbolize each victim being used and reused in the industry. Often the children are tattooed or branded with money-like symbols. 

When asked about the significant size of the coins, Rose said that the artists “wanted them to be hefty and weighty because they bring more of an impact when they’re that size. When you see this with your own eyes, you won’t believe what you’re seeing. With 2,000 of them side by side, I don’t think anyone can miss it.”

The coins are engraved with the faces of boys and girls. On the back of each coin is a crown emblem with the words, “In You We Trust.” 

Rose said it is “a call to the audience to say something: a call to action.”

All designs are original.  The coins are made from terracotta clay, which is thick and red and was commonly used in ancient cultures. After the coins are sculpted and fired in the kiln, they are painted gold using an oil-based leaf paint to emphasize the look and feel of currency. Since each victim dealt with similar issues, the artists decided to make each coin comparable in size and color to promote a sense of equality among the 2,000 victims.

“In You We Trust” will be showcased in the Brazos Gallery through Oct. 16. 

The gallery reception for the artists will also feature an important lecture by a trafficking survivor from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Oct. 30. The reception will include a feature presentation from Traffick 911, an organization dedicated to educating viewers about the dangerous world of sex trafficking and how to stay safe.