Beauty for Freedom Denim Day Shop Page


Katya Akuma

“Mawa” 2019

Fine Art Print on Archival Paper

****All funds raised with this artwork will be donated by artist Katya Akuma to Beauty for Freedom’s survivor art workshop series — a collaboration with the SOAP Project and serving 25+ survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking in Columbus, Ohio****

Artist Statement

I utilize ubiquitous and overlooked objects in my artworks. I find discarded recycled denim to be extremely rewarding element because of its sensory qualities and ability to trigger emotions. Recycled material acts as a metaphor for a personal repository of complex memories traceable through patina, authentic smell/scents collected over time, scratches, patterns, stains etc.


My layering technique is used to distort and fragment the artwork with the aim of inviting the audience to visually perceive the weight and complexity of immigrant issues and reflect on their own experiences. The process of layering is guided by intuition and the rhythmic, repetitive and meditative act of hammering, which possesses symbolic qualities associated with taking back control of life. The intensive manual labor, including the use of a hammer, is my way of reflecting and challenging roles that historically have been assigned to men.


Katya Akuma is an interdisciplinary artist who focuses on using ubiquitous, overlooked, cultural-rich materials, to explore questions of identity and belonging drawing upon her personal experience as an immigrant who has lived and worked in several countries.

Katya has developed a unique storytelling technique involving densely layered discarded leather and found objects that often depict themes of history, collective memory and nostalgia. Through her use of recycled medium, she seeks to highlight the creative potential of repurposed materials while inviting the audience to reconsider the environmental impact of their consumption and disposal.


Katya Akuma is a founder of Council for Fashion and Social Change , that focuses on helping other non-profit organizations raise funding through collaborations with established brands while providing young emerging designers and artists with a platform to showcase their talent. Akuma is currently an Artist in Residence at Andrew Freedman Home and is currently participant in NYFA 2020 Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program for Visual & Multidisciplinary Artists . Her works were recently exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art Pop Rally at Andrew Freedman Home. She was selected and participated in the Parsons Design Fellowship, that was launched by Parsons, The New School for Design and the Urban Zen Foundation for The Design, Organization, Training Center (D.O.T) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Akuma has a MA in Fashion Studies from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City


Uptown Fine Arts Printing Studio

Antoon Taghon, Owner of the studio, will be donating and printing the high quality print.

Beauty for Freedom Denim

Couture Collection

In our 4th year supporting Denim Day, Beauty for Freedom’s latest campaign is making waves in the world of social justice. The non-profit organization has been using the arts to empower survivors of and bring awareness to human trafficking since 2014. This year, for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Denim Day, we have utilized artwork from our previous art programming with our students at Challenging Heights, in collaboration with High School of Fashion Industries, Celestino Couture, and Steps to End Family Violence to create an astounding campaign starring LGBTQIA+ advocates, models, actors, activists and survivors of sexual assault.


This campaign is meaningful to Beauty for Freedom because it culminates a year-long creative program teaching and empowering survivors and at-risk youth through BFF empowerment initiatives created for anti child labor trafficking organization Challenging Heights. This program utilized artwork created by the young survivors and at-risk youth which was incorporated into the designs the students at the High School of Fashion Industries created in collaboration with BFF mentors Celestino Couture. The garments featuring the amazing artwork were made out of recycled denim that was donated by the Rialto Jean Project.


The campaign stars Indya Moore, Corinna Drengk, Carlina Rivera, Gina Cavallo, Zazie Beetz, Shannon King, Lee Upshur, Khrystyana Kazakova, and Wade Davis and all model/advocates shared their passion the cause and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence and rape prevention. With Denim Day upon us (April 24th, 2019), the collection is for SALE by Beauty for Freedom with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Challenging Heights, Beauty for Freedom and Denim Day.



BFF-Denim Day



Beauty for Freedom (BFF), a 501(c)(3) Non-profit Foundation, whose mission is to battle the crisis of human trafficking and empower survivors, raises revenue for survivors in the U.S.A and Around the World, with a fresh approach of self-worth and empowerment through the arts. We engage the industries of Beauty, Art & Fashion as powerful allies in the fight to end human trafficking through national public campaigns, our travel-abroad arts therapy workshops for survivors and exhibitions/events.

Beauty for Freedom is one of a few organizations in New York City dedicated solely to providing Art Therapy at no cost to survivors of trafficking & at-risk youth who have experienced trauma. Our creative programs provide a proven therapeutic approach and creative outlet to help heal individuals in building self-confidence.


About Challenging Heights is a NGO in Ghana protecting the rights of children and focusing their anti-trafficking efforts in the fishing and cocoa industry. According to Challenging Heights, over 24,000 children in Ghana fall victim to the worst forms of child labor annually. Challenging Heights aim is to end Child Trafficking in the next 5 years through Rescue & Recovery, Prevention, and Advocacy.


Denim Day From Los Angeles to New York City, Canada to India, the Denim Day movement has continued to reach millions of people. With events and education happening in all 50 states and in over 50 countries, people around the globe showed their support for survivors, spreading the Denim Day message, that there is no excuse and never and invitation to harass, abuse, assault or rape. One of the many Denim Day supporters is New York City. Denim Day NYC is a coalition led by survivors, advocates, community organizations, city council members and agencies working together to end sexual violence since 2010.

Print Campaign Credits:

Introducing Campaign Models Indya Moore, Corinna Drengk, Carlina Rivera, Gina Cavallo, Zazie Beetz, Shannon King, Lee Upshur, Khrystyana Kazakova, and Wade Davis

Creative Program & Print Design by Beauty for Freedom

Agency: CTM Sisters Productions

Photographer – Geremy Dubensky

Photo Assistant – Agnes Margittai

Producers – Monica Watkins, Jerry Chu

Assistant Producer – Gabrielle Head

Retouching– Mary Swenson

Studio Spaces – LIM College Maxwell Hall Photo Studio & CreativeDrive (Dune Studios)

Artists – Challenging Heights

Designers – High School of Fashion Industries Design Students & Celestino Couture

Styling – Kade Johnson & Sergio Guardarrama

Hair – Paul Lodge & Ben Martin

Hair Assistant – Claudia

Make-Up – Tommy for Pat McGrath Labs, Daniela Taveras, Christianna Gastelum & Juliet Jane MUA Assistant – Violetta Kruglyak

Sponsors– LIM College, CreativeDrive & Elite Model Management New York

BFF Project Partners:

Challenging Heights, Rialto Jean Project, Steps to End Family Violence, High School of Fashion Industries, Celestino Couture