California State University, Stanislaus students were probably surprised to find a large shipping crate blocking their path in the quad on Thursday. Upon closer inspection, many were shocked to find the crate holding a sculpture of a clothed human lodged inside.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and CSU Stanislaus senior Hannah Noonan took a proactive approach to educate her peers on the severity of human trafficking through the creation of a “Crate Human Awareness,” a graphic installation displayed in a heavily traversed area of the campus. The installation features a shipping container that is used for wild animals and features labels such as “do not drop live animals.” However, nestled inside is a jarring image: a life size woman and teddy bear sculpted from plaster with her shoes in the corner and a bucket for personal use. The image makes for a representation of the lack of control trafficked subjects have over their own life, Noonan said.
“My desire is to educate others that humans are being kidnapped and sold into slavery, prostitution, pornography, and organ harvesting. I produced “Crate Human Awareness” to make viewers aware of the conditions of trafficked individuals and to call to action a cease to this industry,” said Noonan.
The crate is composed of several different types of wood to illustrate the diverse races that are trafficked and the tip line for reporting trafficking is stenciled on the cage. Humans are typically smuggled in crates of this type and the installation shows the cruelty of the illegal activity, according to Noonan.
Student reactions varied as they peered in the crate on their walk to class, many of them quieting down to inspect the installation, while others gasped and kept walking.
“It’s pretty intense,” said CSU Stanislaus student Brenda Aguilar. “We know it is happening but we don’t see it like this.”
After creating the installation for a public sculpture course in the fall semester, Noonan felt the need to reach a larger audience, hence her decision to display it publicly without seeking permission.
“I wanted it to be a surprise to everyone and I wanted to time it appropriately. The fact that January is Human Trafficking Awareness month was ideal. Also, I think being able to display it the first week back to school will also have an impact,” said Noonan.
Noonan expects “Crate Human Awareness” to be on display today unless the campus removes it.