Lenexa artist Catherine Kirkland’s Freedom Collection aims to benefit local anti-trafficking initiative

Catherine Kirkland

Lenexa artist Catherine Kirkland (above) has created a new collection of coffee and travel mugs, the sales of which will go towards Stop Trafficking Project, a local anti-trafficking organization focused on youth trafficking prevention efforts. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

Lenexa artist Catherine Kirkland is launching a new art collection to benefit a local anti-trafficking project.

The Freedom Collection is a collaboration between Kirkland and local Capoeira martial arts instructor Felipe Roberson-Torrech, a resident at The Lofts in Lenexa City Center.

Kirkland met Roberson-Torrech at The Lofts, which is also home to her art studio, and the two have combined efforts to support the Stop Trafficking Project, an organization seeking to prevent domestic minor sex trafficking.

Felipe Roberson-Torrech, a Lenexa martial arts instructor, is collaborating with Kirkland on the Freedom Collection. Photo courtesy Catherine Kirkland.

“I asked Felipe to select from my body of work images of my paintings that supported his concept of the Freedom Collection,” Kirkland said. “He wanted to select images that suggested freedom. As a Capoeira instructor, he loves the freedom of movement and the expression that comes from that in his art, which is a martial art. And he took it a little bit further by saying, ‘Everybody should be free to live their life by their choice.’”

The Freedom Collection by Kirkland Creative Art + Design is a series of artistic mugs that Kirkland designed and Roberson-Torrech selected for the collection.

The collection features a variety of standard coffee/tea mugs, latte mugs and travel mugs. They can be bought online at Kirkland’s website or in person at her City Center studio.

“At the beginning of this project, when considering the design of the mugs, I wanted someone else — not me — to select images from my art catalog and to name the collection,” Kirkland said.

Proceeds from mug sales go toward the Stop Trafficking Project.

She then happened to meet Roberson-Torrech the day he signed his lease at The Lofts City Center.

Kirkland recounted the story of how they met: how her artwork and “residency” at The Lofts inspired him, and how he brought his students and friends to visit her studio.

While building the friendship, Kirkland ultimately decided, along with Roberson-Torrech, to send proceeds from the art sales to the Stop Trafficking Project.

“Contributing to this cause is important because I’ve raised two sons, and as a mom, I can’t imagine the pain of a parent discovering that their child has been spirited away to be trafficked,” Kirkland said. “And so, this organization goes into the youth groups, in schools, to educate children and parents and other responsible adults to warn them of the dangers, to help avoid this possibility.

“It’s important to me to be a part of that, to try and help children avoid being trafficked and everything that goes along with that,” she said.