A few years ago, residents, volunteers and I painted rocks to surround a garden at Dawn’s Place, a home for survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. A resident painted, “We are all masterpieces of broken pieces.”
It inspired the name and concept behind an art project for survivors from Dawn’s Place, The Salvation Army’s New Day to Stop Trafficking Program and other programs. Survivors and their allies create glittering mosaic candleholders and beautiful ornaments from broken jewelry, unwanted plates and discarded books.
By participating in the “Masterpieces” project, local survivors learn and practice work skills, make decisions, express ideas and think creatively. Survivors earn gift cards to buy what they choose; community members’ purchases of “masterpieces” enable survivors to earn more gift cards. One woman found that the relaxation and focus the activity provides can help her fight insomnia and PTSD episodes. Others experienced a boost in self-esteem when Penn State’s Henry Art Gallery included their “masterpieces” in an exhibit.
The pieces displayed at the “Masterpieces of Broken Pieces: A Labyrinth of Light and Hope”—a glittering, meditative walk among the survivor artwork and candlelight during January’s National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month—help labyrinth participants connect with survivors’ success stories and their deeper sense of compassion.
The “Masterpieces of Broken Pieces” project reminds us all that although we carry scars from life’s difficulties and we are imperfect, we are all the more valuable, beautiful and unique for having survived.
Written by Carol Metzker