Let the Oppressed Go Free Arriving Friday, March 29 March 28, 2024

The Basilica of Saint Mary will exhibit the 22.5-feet long, 3.5-ton bronze sculpture Let the Oppressed Go Free on the front plaza from March 29 throughout the spring. The Let the Oppressed Go Free sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, depicts Saint Josephine Bakhita opening up the underground and releasing modern-day slaves. The powerful piece, currently on tour across the U.S., was inspired by the scripture “setting free the oppressed” in Isaiah 58:6.

The sculpture brings attention to the societal issue by depicting human trafficking slaves being released from captivity. Fifty figures representing the different faces of human trafficking including sex exploitation, forced labor, debt bondage, and more are depicted—illustrating that men, women, and children can all become victims of human trafficking, particularly those from vulnerable communities.

“It’s almost impossible with one poster, or one figure, to actually represent the scope of the problem today,” Schmalz says of human trafficking. “I decided to do a piece that had around 50 different figures, showing all the unfortunate diverse ways of human slavery today. So, in a sense, it is creating awareness.”