The Scarlet Cord

ArtPrize 2014 Artist

Voted Top 25 Installation at ArtPrize 2014

Healing for Sex Trafficked Children

Pamela Alderman

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, and forgotten by everybody‚Ķthat is a much greater hunger.” Mother Theresa
Incredible. Beautiful. Haunting. ArtPrize 2014 visitor response

The Scarlet Cord installation reveals the deception that enslaves innocent children caught in sex trafficking. As visitors step inside a 40-foot storage container filled with thirty doors, they enter a secret world like the dark world of trafficking that crosses religious and social borders to sell our children for sex. The twisting scarlet cord depicts the trauma bond that connects the children to their traffickers. The weathered doors represent these abused children whose youthful minds have become knotted like old wood.

The artwork—dedicated to these suffering children tethered within the sex industry—calls for compassionate action. Thirty-thousand scarlet cords were given away at ArtPrize 2014 as a reminder to build circles of protection around at-risk children. Following ArtPrize, The Scarlet Cord traveled to Phoenix during the 2015 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl to help raise awareness against commercial sex trafficking—our modern day slavery.

The Scarlet Cord audio collage: Hear real voices of trafficking survivors and law enforcement provided by Shared Hope International.

Weathered doors tied with red rope used in The Scarlet Cord installation

Night Cries

The Scarlet Cord – Pop Up Gallery

Night Cries

My new 2017 painting series, Night Cries, is my creative reaction to the history of pain and devastation experienced by so many who visited my installations. Voice actors recorded actual sentences from the victims I encountered. Then my videographer turned the recordings into audio sound waves. This collection of abstract paintings have been interpreted from audio sound waves to 2D paintings.

The Scarlet Web

The Scarlet Cord – Pop Up Gallery

The Scarlet Web

The Scarlet Web, a five-sided structure resembling a 3D abstract spider web, is made up of a collage of empty frames and six photographic images connected with zip-ties to portray bondage. The work is designed to raise awareness and to provide a safe space for the victims of sex crimes to heal. Alderman and her team create a new kind of artist/citizen work that invites audience collaboration through relational aesthetics. The work lets others speak and respond.


The Scarlet Cord – Pop Up Gallery


Gender biases can blind us in the predominant sex-trafficking narrative when we imagine only female victims and male perpetrators. But boys comprise about 50 percent of sexually exploited children, according to a 2008 study done by John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Girls, however, typically receive most of the press and aftercare.

To create Blinded, Pamela Alderman literally wore a blindfold while throwing and splattering paint onto the canvases. Only after uncovering her eyes did she discover a new visual language that revealed pain and loss. Similarly, our cultural blinders make it difficult for vulnerable male victims to reveal their souls to expose nefarious activity. Blinded seeks to uncover the truth and help heal both female—and male—survivors.

The Scarlet Cord installation on the road

The Scarlet Cord being transported
The Scarlet Cord, container installation The Scarlet Cord, mini installation (open space) The Scarlet Cord, gallery installation (enclosed space)

The Scarlet Cord: container installation, mini installation (open space), and gallery installation (enclosed space)

Pamela Alderman is a very talented artist, but she is much more than that. She is a woman concerned about a greater artistic endeavor—the protection, welfare, freedom, dignity and worth of all women. Her exhibit “The Scarlet Cord,” masterfully opens the eyes of the public to the sad and destructive world of human trafficking. She exposes the dark side, but is always ready to show the path to redemption and healing.

Michael Cook
Manager of Programs, Acton Institute

Pamela put together a powerful program at GVSU. Her exhibit was evocative and emotional, and the event she coordinated brought home the reality of sex trafficking with people who have experienced first-hand the terrible frequency of it in West Michigan. Overall, though, the message was one of hope—the hope that those trafficked can heal, the hope that our actions can mitigate this scourge, and the hope that humanity can triumph over evil.

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain
Director, Frederik Meijer Honors College
Grand Valley State University

Visitor's Responses

Very powerful! Visual and audio. Prosecuting attorney
Entering the container was like entering their world. Professor
I'm not usually into art but this one touched me.
I felt the same emotions at The Scarlet Cord as I did visiting Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam.
Women at Risk volunteer tying a red string bracelet on ArtPrize 2014 visitor

Wear a red string bracelet to symbolize your commitment to build circles of protection around at-risk children; 30,000 red string bracelets were given away during ArtPrize 2014

The Scarlet Cord film creative collaborators: Producer Rochelle Raim√£o, Director Simon Scionka, and Artist Pamela Alderman

Singer Kelsey Rottiers and artist Pamela Alderman bring you “Midnight Wars & The Scarlet Cord,” a collaborative music video set against the backdrop of “The Scarlet Cord” ArtPrize installation

Help Make a Difference

By confronting the harsh reality of child trafficking, we activate hope and healing.

The Scarlet Cord in Phoenix

The Scarlet Cord at night in Phoenix

More on The Scarlet Cord in Phoenix…

Watch WZZM TV13 interview with Pamela about The Scarlet Cord traveling to Phoenix…

The Tragedy of Human Trafficking

The Evils of Human Trafficking was featured as part of the Acton Lecture Series in May.

To schedule The Scarlet Cord exhibition, email Pamela Alderman or use the form on our Contact page.

To help continue the healing message, please make your donation on the Healing in Arts web site. Thank you for continuing this journey with us.