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Sid Lee Collective Presents Refuge: Creativity for Civil Liberty

Posted March 21, 2017

Inspired by Meryl Streep’s quote (Via Carrie Fisher) “Take your broken heart, make it into art,” Sid Lee decided to take action.

Using creativity as a catalyst, Sid Lee Collective is hosting a powerful art exhibition called “Refuge.” Artists from different mediums and backgrounds are showcasing their work to create a provocative discussion around everything immigration, the fight for equality, displacement, and protection of civil liberties.

The 1-day exhibition will be located in the gallery space (201 Mulberry St) in SOHO. Donations are encouraged and there will be art, merchandise, books, and more available to purchase with all proceeds going to ACLU.

More information on the event can be found here.

DIVERGE talked to Dan Brooks, Executive Creative Director and Partner at Sid Lee to find out more:

Where did the idea for this come from?

Let’s face it, our industry has a long way to go to addressing issues such as inclusivity, diversity and equality, and we as an agency are certainly not immune to this. As civil liberties are being infringed daily it felt timely to respond. REFUGE is a statement, showing that creativity as a positive force for change. Not wanting to keep it just about ourselves we reached out to other creatives and artists to gauge interest to see if they wanted to support the initiative. 

Where we think it can be powerful is when people who haven’t been activists collaborate with those who have been. We’re hoping REFUGE acts as a catalyst for the creative community to use their influence to provoke change.

Why is this such a passion project for Sid Lee?

Sid Lee Collective was set-up to fund and assign time for people who work at SID LEE to realize their passion projects. It’s a positive platform that sparks internal empowerment whilst stretching creative boundaries. There’s been a shift this year to invest in more purpose driven initiatives. Let’s bring some goodness into the world!

Can you share event details and what attendees can look forward to?

The exhibition features thoughtful, provocative pieces of work. Photographers, designers, artists from different disciplines and backgrounds all make personal statements.

Some are existing pieces, others commissioned for specifically the show.

For example:

Jo Metson-Scott captured the intimate yet haunting reality of a Syrian refugee camp in Greece.

Joaquin Trujillo’s explores the humanity of leaving water for others when migrants cross borders with a striking installation.

Designer Shawna X’s is creating a bright, bold neon piece will light up the space, the inspiration contrasting the darker subject of barriers and detention.

In the main room Daniel Perlin and Sid Lee construct a Shelter experience. A tent inspired by Templehof camp in Germany, containing VR films from the UN and the NYT.

There are 10 other impactful pieces that will hopefully move people in some way.

REFUGE opens on the 24th for a private view where Def Jam’s Troi Irons performs an intimate set. The following day March 25 the space is open to the public from 12pm-6pm.

For the public day we have speakers including – Mike Zuckerman,  a humanitarian who will discuss his experiences refugee building camps.

All we ask is for people come down, share their experience, get involved and donate some money!

Can you share how you chose the artists?

A mixture. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with inspirational artists that we know or who know people. We did some cold calling of some people we admire. We wanted a mixture of mediums, backgrounds, perspectives and experience for the show. We’ve been taken back with the response. It’s been so positive. It shows that NYC retains much influence from a cultural perspective. Biggest challenge for everyone was the timeframe. It’s only been a few weeks from concept to fruition.

Why are you donating all it the funds to ACLU?

Actually we’re donating to the ACLU but also other organizations who do great work such as a local organization called the Refugee and Immigrant Fund. The show touches on broad topics, we want to make sure local and relevant organizations get a platform but also funds.

Why is diversity and inclusion a top priority for Sid Lee?

As an industry we feel there’s still a long way to go to address the balance. We firmly believe the world should be a more open and inclusive place, that our creative capacity greatly benefits from diverse perspectives and points-of-view. Even under our roof,  we have many nationalities, around 15 I believe. The notion of equality immigration, civil liberties and displacement are all topics of discussion within our walls.

Additional thoughts?

REFUGE hopefully isn’t just a one-off. I’d personally like it to be the catalyst for us as an agency and other organizations and individuals to find ways to be more purpose driven.