Bismarck artist helps Fargo author document human rights history in North Dakota

Published: Jul. 7, 2017 at 2:48 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Stacy Schaffer had never had a picture like this before.

"I have done different types of photo shoots in my career, but I've never had that type of experience,” said Schaffer.

Stacy founded the 31:8 Project, an organization fighting human trafficking in North Dakota through research and education. It was an extra credit assignment while she was at the University of Mary that motivated her.

"The speaker started talking about something called human trafficking. And I perked up immediately because I'm thinking hey, slavery is gone, what is this guy talking about? And realized how wrong I was,” Schaffer said.

She is one of 20 people to be featured in a project called "Those Among Us". Sean Coffman, who is the executive producer, explains what he wants to accomplish.

"What we are trying to do is bring an intangible idea and make it a tangible subject, that's being worked on by actual individuals right now in North Dakota,” said Coffman.

Coffman teamed up with Bismarck artist Shane Balkowitsch to create the pictures, which are actually ambrotypes. A classic form of photography. The resulting image is more precise than a digital camera, something Stacy was nervous about.

"It was nerve wracking and as I see the portrait...start to appear, you're nervous because you never really see yourself that often in that light. But I loved how it turned out,” said Schaffer.

The ambrotype won't degrade like a photograph taken with film, cementing her place in the history books.

There are four parts to the project: a book, a video, an exhibition and the end goal of getting the project included in school curriculums. If you want to learn more about the project, you can go to