Welcome to the “Breaking Criminal Traditions” Forum!

“The Art of Influence”

Art for those who live in Chicago is often something that is taken for granted; it is seen on a daily basis whether in one of our many world-class museums, in Daley Plaza when passing the larger than life Picasso, on the way to the train station in the windows of the city’s numerous galleries or adorning the public transit train cars as youthful graffiti. When not in the museum or gallery environment, art is unconsidered on a daily basis and often just thought about causally as a matter of interior design or personal taste. However, those who believe in the power of art, and who chose to work in this field are looking to change the blasé attitude that much of society has towards creative works. There is so much emotion and sentiment that can be communicated through the visual; there is so much more thought to be given to these artistic messages and we are taking the first steps in the traveling exhibition, “The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions”.

This traveling exhibition was conceptualized and realized by noted painter/curator Chuck Gniech, author/TED speaker Cheryl Jefferson, and award winning painter Richard Laurent in collaboration with nationally acclaimed artists. The movement uses art as a medium for communication of issues of both global and local importance. This exhibition focuses on the human right violations most directly affecting woman and their families around the world such as honor killing, acid violence, bride burning, breast ironing, circling, blind stitching, female genital mutilation, forced child marriage, child soldiers, female infanticide, guns, stoning, and human trafficking. Most of these traditions have been historically instilled in cultures throughout the world and are still a modern day cause for concern. Through the work of the artists involved in the exhibition, the traditions are portrayed in a manner which forces contemplation and discussion, while still being visually intriguing. The works not only represent the tragedy of these traditions but the beauty that is woman/humanity in contrast. This exhibition encourages the public to appreciate the beautiful aspects of life, while also motivating society to change the ugly realities that affect this world.

Like the art exhibit that has or will adorn the walls of law schools, community centers, and college campuses this forum is taking a step towards change. There is no person  better suited to take that step than people like you and I who want to help create a better life and better world for those who are not as fortunate as us with our lifestyles and freedoms. We would like the public to view this discussion page as an extension of the exhibit, utilize this as your comment card, tell us what you thought about the show, tell us what spoke to you , ask us questions and we will do our best to satisfy your thirst for more information.  In the future this forum aims to interact with several artists and experts involved in the exhibition and looks forward to constant feedback. We will utilize this discussion as a step in keeping the community up to date on what is next for the exhibition. Primarily this will be a conversation sparked and enriched by current events, new artistic productions, expert opinion , scholarly articles, general curiosities, experiences of readers, and involvement of the producers of “Breaking Criminal Traditions”.

We are aware that many of these topics are difficult to discuss and are often from cultures of which most of us are not a part, cultures that are often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media. We accept that there may be some who do not view these practices the same as we do, but in regards to human rights it is necessary that we speak up for those who are silenced.

We encourage you all to participate with an open mind and heart, and to be respectful since we come from many different stations in life. It is most important, however, to remember that in essence we are all the same; human, and every human deserves the chance to make their own choices and have their voice heard.

So please join us on this journey of enrichment, education, and perhaps enlightenment. Let us learn from art, academics, and each other. Let us take that first step toward change together.

The breaking criminal traditions team looks forward to talking with you all.

Sydney Pacha- Writer/producer 

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