MJ-school students sweep national 'Picturing Freedom' poster design contest on human trafficking

Posters on the subject of human trafficking designed by UNC School of Media and Journalism seniors Justin Wynn, Mary Catherine Young and Janie Price were recently awarded Grand Prize, First Prize and Honorable Mention respectively in a nationwide competition hosted by ArtWorks for Freedom — a sweeping win encompassing every category available to students.

Artworks for Freedom, a nonprofit organization seeking to raise awareness of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, requested poster submissions that presented “visually innovative and provocative interpretations of human trafficking and the myriad issues related to its proliferation.” MJ-school Associate Professor Terence Oliver encouraged his fall semester students to create artwork for the Picturing Freedom competition.

“I am especially proud of all of the students because they worked hard to meet the ultimate challenge of endeavoring to make a difference with human trafficking and possibly save lives,” said Oliver.

UNC senior Justin Wynn, a graphic design intern with the University’s Academic Advising program, took home the Grand Prize and $1,000. Young and Price also received cash awards. Their design work will be credited on the ArtWorks for Freedom website and in future promotions and exhibitions.

The Picturing Freedom posters are featured in a pop-up exhibition Nov. 1-20 at The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia, a renovated munitions plant on the Potomac River that draws more than 500,000 visitors a year. An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6 – 9 p.m.

MJ-school undergraduates have the opportunity to consider the topic of human trafficking in depth thanks to The Irina Project (TIP).

Based at the MJ-school, TIP monitors media representations of sex trafficking and advocates — through research and engagement — for responsible and accurate coverage of the issue. The program is co-directed by Professor Anne Johnston and Associate Professor Barbara Friedman, whose own research articulates the way news media framing shapes the way an issue is understood and acted upon.

Johnston and Friedman provided information and feedback about human trafficking at a critical point in the poster designs. “It was really helpful for us as a class to hear from professors Johnston and Friedman about a subject they’ve devoted a part of their lives to,” said Wynn, who credits the discussion with helping shape the message on his winning poster.


Justin Wynn '18
Grand Prize
Mary Catherine Young '18
First Prize
Janie Price '18
Honorable Mention