Sid Lee’s Art Exhibit Illustrates the Heartbreaking Plight of Refugees and the Importance of Civil Liberties

Proceeds benefit the ACLU and the Refugee and Immigrant Fund

The exhibit features photos of children in a refugee camp in Greece.
Jo Metson/Courtesy of Sid Lee

In her powerful Golden Globes speech railing against inequality, Meryl Streep said, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.” That’s a quote from the late Carrie Fisher. It’s also the inspiration for “Refuge,” Sid Lee Collective’s new art exhibit that opens Saturday in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.

The goal of the exhibit, which features the work of 12 artists, is to spark a conversation about immigration, the fight for equality and the protection of civil liberties.

The exhibit includes a model of Syrian refugee shelter cubicles currently in the Tempelhof airport in Berlin, photos of children in a Syrian refugee camp in Greece, banners with the messages “Imagine Equality” and “Home for Now,” and a series of photos of commuters on the Staten Island Ferry showing peaceful coexistence in a diverse society. Some of the artwork is for sale along with other merchandise, and profits go to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Refugee and Immigrant Fund.

Sid Lee

Sid Lee Collective is an incubator, sponsored by agency Sid Lee, that funds creative projects by its employees and outside artists. Through the collective, all of the agency’s employees are allowed to spend up to 10 percent of their work time making their own passion projects happen.

“It’s a platform for us to push passion products, and we thought we’d look at something with a bit more purpose, that’s more meaningful,” said Dan Brooks, executive creative director of Sid Lee New York. “We came upon the idea of harnessing the power of the collective and bringing creatives under one banner to make a statement about civil liberties and the refugee crisis.”

The exhibit’s mission is a timely one, Brooks added.

“More and more, you’re seeing people who weren’t normally activists taking a stand, with the equality marches in New York and the news coverage around the travel ban that’s excluding people from certain countries from coming to the U.S.,” he said. “It’s an opportunity and maybe even a responsibility now for people who are involved in communication and creativity to use a bit of their influence to inspire people and be purpose-driven.”

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