Interview with Molly Gochman: Mastermind of The Red Sand Project

“There are so many possible ways to move things forward. Little grains of sand. Little acts add up. Cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. Slowly…it happens.” -Molly Gochman, creator of The Red Sand Project

Molly Gochman: artist, activist, new mom.

Current Residence: NYC

Goals: Invite people to question themselves and the status quo using art.

Cool Factor: One billion.

Who remembers that one time Ashton Kutcher posted the one and only picture of his daughter on social media? And the red sand. The important part.

Red Sand Project is a participatory artwork that uses sidewalk interventions, earthwork installations, and convening to create opportunities for people to question, to connect and to take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation.

Molly has had a heart for human rights for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Eastern Texas with a father who practiced as a human rights lawyer, she always believed she would go into law. After interning for a Congressman it became obvious this was not a world that easily shifted belief’s.

Enter art.

Molly began to question and research why people liked certain objects or art patterns. Opening her eyes to the available art around her she found it elitist and inaccessible to the community for discussion. She thought people easily lose confidence in museums because they don’t understand the art or what they are suppose to take away.

So began her first adventure into making something tangible for her community.

The Giveaway Project.

Armed with shoes and clothes and objects from her life she used fish hooks, hangers and wire instruments to create collages around her studio in Houston. She opened it up to the community. You could take anything you wanted, you just had to be willing to take a picture with it first. It was a huge success.

Suddenly, life hit.

Molly’s father passed away.

There was mildew in the house where her studio was so she couldn’t do any shows.

She was exhausted.

So she moved to NYC.

With no studio and an open mind Molly began to learn about human trafficking. She asked organizations how she could help.

Create awareness.

This is my favorite part of Molly’s story. How the idea surrounding The Red Sand Project.

Art Plaza Miami asked her to do a project around human trafficking. She had watched a film called Food Chain, which focuses on the human cost of the our food supply. There are 6 men trapped in a U-Haul and are able to escape through a crack.

One crack. That changes everything. That creates survival.

The Red Sand Project is born to create awareness surrounding human trafficking. Its a call to action to invite in conversation about exploitation and human rights. By filling in the cracks of sidewalks, streets, walkways and roads Molly’s work is initiating a conversation. Urging the public to get involved. To think about what the sand represents and how ignoring it or walking past it changes the experience.

Although Molly worried she may accidentally trivialize the issue it has been met with great reception from survivors. She has been thanked for creating an imagine that doesn’t exploit the survivor.

The Red Sand Project is worldwide, educating, teaching and sparking conversation surrounding the art.

One of the larger earthworks The Red Sand Project has done was in the shape of the US/Mexico border after 50,000 kids were detained at the border. Molly wanted to create dialogue around how we are receiving people at the border and the exposure to violence. It looked like this:

Thanks to Molly, the world is armed with the little grains of sand, the acts that add up. Thanks to Molly, our world has the ability to create an image about human trafficking and exploitation that gives power to the story.

“Art is a vehicle to make people more empathetic.”

Molly Gochman

You can find your red sand kit and more about the artist here:

Photos courtesy of Molly Gochman.


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