In the Spotlight – Felicia Follum


While in Laramie for Week 32 I met Felicia Follum, a talented artist who created #TheLilyPadProject to raise awareness about human trafficking and sex slavery. Each of the 1,500 water lilies and lily pads she created symbolize 100 people trafficked into the US each year.

1. What is the meaning of the water lily metaphor?

Water lilies are beautiful plants that have adapted to survive in some pretty nasty conditions.  The root system and underground workings of the plant are extremely complex and parallel the system that supports human trafficking.  The most basic, yet significant, comparison is the function of the lily pads.  Each lily pad takes back energy to the root, which would otherwise shrivel up and die in the mud.

My work combines social justice themes with graphic design, watercolor, and multimedia techniques.  Through research, brainstorming, and experimentation I constantly strive to develop a creative language that empowers my art to bring about social change.

Raising awareness is not about making people feel guilty; it is about empowering you, the viewer, to make an impact in your community and ultimately the world.

Acrylic2. How have you connected this project to other people?

I have been passing out lily pads to people all over the US and world including Denver, Seattle, Yakima (WA), Kennewick (WA), California, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana Wyoming, Egypt, Austria, and Argentina.  In addition to being directly involved I want people to see the humanity and beauty in each individual. I suppose I want to focus on similarities and beauty rather than the sheer sadness.

3. As you’ve gone through the journey of distributing the lilies and lily pads, what have you noticed that you didn’t expect?

I was pretty excited by how excited others were to share the lily pads with their friends. Also the creativity that people have used while sharing has been quite inspiring as well.

4. What’s next for the project and for you?

Artists are always being inspired by the world around then I think I am no exception. Some of my current inspirations include my job, travel, and religion. I work with adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities and would like to have a group exhibition with a coworker and a couple clients. I am fascinated by the ways humans interact with religion and have been painting snakes and lizards in response to religion for a few months now. This summer I will travel to India and I am excited to see what art that encourages.

5. How can people get involved?

If you would like to participate in #TheLilyPadProject you can purchase a print or take a lily pad ($5 suggested donation), photograph it in various settings and share it with your friends. You can connect with the project online by visiting and

One Response to In the Spotlight – Felicia Follum

  1. Here are some of the photos you requested on Twitter 🙂
    Enjoy friend and enjoy the rest of your journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *