If you have ever sat down for tea with me, you may have noticed me remove the tags from the tea bags and discretely slip them into my pocket. I can’t remember when exactly this fascination with tea tags started but over the past few years I have been collecting these small bits of coloured paper in hopeful anticipation of what I would eventually create with them.
I am excited to announce that the wait is over and I have begun a body of work that will be on display and for sale at the Lighthouse Voyage Art Event in Vancouver on October 22nd at the Lost + Found Cafe. Lighthouse Voyage (LV) is a nonprofit organization, started by a dear friend of mine, that uses art as a platform for creating awareness and raising funds to aid in the rescuing of women and children from sex trafficking in India. I am a board member and artist for LV and it has been one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences to see how art truly can make a difference.
Through my involvement with LV, I began to learn more about the various issues that contribute to the sex trade industry in India and was shocked to learn that tea plays an important role. Due to low wages on plantations, families often cannot afford to keep their children and many are sold to traffickers and kept as slaves who are abused and raped. I was very moved after reading Elaina Kujar’s story that was published in The Guardian and I have attached a link to it below. In the article Elaina explains how her trafficker promised her a life of excitement and glamour, but instead she was “kept as a prisoner, unable to leave the house or contact her family”. The article states that “According to India’s National Crime Record Bureau, a child goes missing in India every eight minutes, and more than a third are never found.”
Before I began this art piece, I had never considered that tea had the power to influence so many lives. My goal for this series is that it would be a wake-up call: that we would not just accept the status quo of the way things are but would approach current issues with a critical, educated, and engaged mind. In the same way Elaina was lured by her trafficker’s false promises, all too often we are tricked by false advertising and do not consider the repercussions of our actions.
In the words of Mother Teresa:
“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”