About Rise of the Butterfly

Mission, Values and Vision

RISE believes in the power of art to change people and people to change the world. Using art as a catalyst, our objective is to intersect art and activism to fund anti-trafficking organizations fueling conscious-raising actions and innovative, effective solutions. The promotion of personal transformation, resilience, community solutions, and agency are core values in our mission.

Our vision is to use artistic collaborations and actions to spread the message that we all have a responsibility to build a world where human beings do not own human beings and to end trafficking. To achieve our mission, we have garnered a team of revolutionary activist artists and influencers, and partnered with the largest and most established programs working to end global human trafficking, namely Voices4Freedom, Apne Aap, and Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). All profits from proceeds will directly support survivors and benefit these anti-trafficking organizations and their efforts.


Rise of the Butterfly (RISE) resulted after a conversation between abolitionist and internationally acclaimed visual artist Layla Love and feminist icon Gloria Steinem about combining Love’s images and Steinem’s words to create a positive impact on the world. Love conceptualized the nonprofit RISE as a network of activist artists, expanding the reach of art to raise awareness and to evoke activism, calling out communities to direct action, and funding social justice.

About the Founder

Layla Love

Layla Love’s art aims to illuminate our human consciousness. She captures life as a series of adventures and expeditions into the unknown, returning always with a greater sense of what it means to be human. Having been in both foreign prisons and royal palaces she has learned to employ the power of creative force to transcend. Her intention is to illuminate and reveal in the hopes of igniting a spark of activation. After studying journalism and global communications at Richmond International University in London she realized that visual imagery has the greatest impact in our modern communication process., At 21 she began a five year photojournalism tour to war torn and compromised region with a focus on the plight of women. In New York and other cities she brings her experience to gallery walls – leaving the rest to you…Love sees a world where art changes people, and people change the world.

Love’s photography has been exhibited worldwide including a photographic selection to the White House permanent collection in 2008. She has shown with Eric Franck Fine Art at Paris Photo, Art Basel, the MoMa sponsored AiPAD Photography Show in New York, which is the longest running and foremost exhibition of fine art photography. She has participated in over 100 photographic exhibitions with world-renowned artists such as, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Pablo Picasso, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Kara Walker. Love’s image The Fullest Bloom, was adapted individually for over 30 Tiffany & Co. Diamond Showrooms worldwide attesting to Love’s attention to detail and mastery of fine art printing.

Partnering Organizations

Rise of the Butterfly has designated the following well-established organizations with aligned missions and effective programming to be the main recipients of RISE funds, along with other smaller organizations, campaigns and actions to be determined as needed by Love, Steinem, the RISE team, and the Board of Directors:

Apne Aap Women Worldwide

Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an Indian anti-sex-trafficking organization, provides education, legal support, government identification, access to welfare, and income-generating programs to at-risk and prostituted women and children. Its mission is to end sex trafficking and operates under the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) and antodaya (upliftment of the last woman). It serves more than 20,000 girls, women and families and aims to create a world in which no woman or girl is bought or sold and can reach her full potential. Apne Aap strives to achieve its mission by deterring the purchase of sex through policy and social change.

The Apne Aap network successfully advocated for a new anti-trafficking law, Section 370 I.P.C against trafficking that shifts the blame from the victim to the perpetrator. The girls and women of Apne Aap have now joined hands with various rights-based movements in India linked to the four essential rights: the right to food; right to sustainable and dignified livelihood; right to land and housing; and right to education. In addition, Apne Aap actively supports movements against the marginalization of low-caste people, de-notified tribes and girls and women. The network leads and joins Dalit rallies, and participates in DNT group organizing and the anti-rape protests.



Voices4Freedom Foundation (Voices) is a nonprofit organization comprised of journalists and filmmakers dedicated to abolish slavery by leveraging education, media and entertainment to raise awareness and support for individuals and anti-trafficking organizations. Voices, along with its sister organization, Free the Slaves, partner with front-line activists who are actively bringing slaves to freedom while simultaneously attacking the systems and eradicating the conditions that allow it to exist.

Their current project, Schools4Freedom, is an innovative transitional school model, consisting of twenty four schools, that educates child slaves for up to three years. In the process, entire villages are being freed from generations of slavery as the adults are empowered through rights and vocational trainings. Voices has helped rescue over twenty six hundred slaves who are now educating and rescuing neighboring villages. Their documentation of this work has resulted in Enslaved, an interactive, immersive, multi-media art exhibition documenting the lives of slaves and celebrating the freedom they never dreamed possible.


Coalition Against Trafficking of Women International (CATW)

CATW is a non-governmental organization that works to end human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children worldwide. As the world’s first and leading abolitionist organization, it provides advocacy, education, victim services and prevention programs for victims of trafficking and prostitution in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America, including the US.

Since 1988, CATW has provided widely recognized leadership on local, national, regional, and international levels, in promoting legislative, policy and educational measures to raise awareness about the root causes of human trafficking. CATW holds Special Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and was a key consultant at the UN Transnational Organized Crime Meeting from 1999-2000 the outcome of which is the Palermo Protocol, the world’s most recognized legal instrument on human trafficking.


Founding Partner

Gloria Steinem

Click here to read the forward to Layla Love’s fine art book, Her World Within, written by Gloria Steinem.


Melissa Quesinberry

Assistant Director

Vida Landrón

Community Outreach Director

Mel Shapcott

Media and Digital Content Director

Collaborating Artists

Glenn Cantave: a filmmaker, activist, performance artist and social entrepreneur who focuses on using emerging technology to highlight the narratives of under-represented communities. He is currently creating a 360 documentary on the resistance movement, We the People, and his coalition, Movers and Shakers, is launching a ballot initiative in New York City to mandate that school textbooks teach the history of all marginalized communities.

Jansiel Polanco: a graphic designer, illustrator, and animator and the Founder of Art-CL Studios. He develops digital creative arts content and materials, specializing in animation and 3D art.

Athena Soules: a visual artist and Co-Founder of the NYC Light Brigade, who utilizes light and graphic art to amplify messages of social justice amidst marches and rallies. Her banners have led several large marches, including the JFK travel ban protests, the 2018 Women’s March NYC, and the Families Belong Together NYC March, and were featured in numerous national publications.

David Moriya: a street candid and concert photographer who turned to photojournalism after the US 2016 election. He founded his nonprofit, Rogue Photo, a network of photographers and videographers to support artistic activism, and donates digital content and services for social justice organizations in need of support.

Terrick Gutierrez: a multimedia artist who utilizes his knowledge of emerging technology, mainly animation, 3D art, and Virtual and Augmented Reality, to create art and digital content that tells the stories of those whose voices are often silenced and unheard