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UND senior's art thesis goes beyond final grade

Senior Acacia Geske wanted to bring the issue of human trafficking to light with her project.

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University of North Dakota senior Acacia Geske shows part of her senior thesis art project, which contains themes related to human trafficking. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

GRAND FORKS — Tucked away inside the Hughes Fine Arts Center at the University of North Dakota, UND senior Acacia Geske is showing off her seven year-long thesis project.

"As I filled the space up, got all the pedestals set up, it just put it into perspective all the years of hard work," she said.

While the exhibit, titled "Hidden in the Red-light," is Geske's last hurrah as a college student, it's also bringing the issue of human trafficking to the forefront.

"I always like to emphasize hands, because I feel like they tell a story," she said, as she explained how many of the art pieces in the exhibit involve hands or other body parts being tied up.

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Geske said although the exhibit mostly tells the stories of others who've been victims of human trafficking, she's also telling her own.

"I grew up in Thailand, and we were at a grocery store, and I was minutes away from being abducted," Geske said, adding her mother is from Thailand.

The personal experience was part of what drove Geske to start building the exhibit, which Wesley Smith, one of Geske's professors, said adds a little extra heart.

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This exhibit, titled "What Runs the Industry," shows dollar bills and pills made out of art materials. This is part of UND student Acacia Geske's senior thesis art project on human trafficking. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

"(The exhibit) forces people in a way that's understandable to look and to think, and to sort of process their thoughts about (human trafficking)," Smith said.

While her thesis will only be in the showroom until Friday, April 23, Geske hopes enough people will be encouraged to fight for those in the red light.

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"It's always been a part of my life, because it could've, in seconds, been vastly different," she said.

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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