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Refugee children's artwork on display at ASU

September 05, 2008

The front windows of Arizona State University’s Museum of Anthropology currently frame a very special collection of artwork: 24 paintings by refugee children now living in Arizona. Inside the museum are 24 additional paintings, along with storyboards detailing the young artists’ harrowing journeys to their new lives in the U.S. In simple strokes of primary colors, the dreams and nightmares of these resilient youths come to life in a mini-exhibit titled From Harm to Home.  

Painted by youngsters from Burma to Burundi, the images on canvas and paper illustrate the scope of refugee children’s heartache, as well as their hope. The unique body of art is the outgrowth of an International Rescue Committee session last March in which several dozen refugee children ages 3 to 15 were encouraged, under the guidance of an art therapist, to create paintings of their families, their homelands and their new homes in Arizona. 

The ASU presentation is but a sampling of over 300 paintings created during the session and is a poignant complement to the museum’s concurrent full exhibits, Fuse: Portraits of Refugee Households in Metropolitan Phoenix; and Mosaic: Cultural Identity in America. All three exhibits will be on display through Oct. 3.  

The From Harm to Home installation coincides with the International Rescue Committee’s 75th anniversary. Began in 1933 by Albert Einstein and prominent American citizens to aid Germans suffering under Hitler’s regime, the group continues to assist refugees, provide emergency relief, alleviate suffering and advocate around the world for the protection of human rights and dignity.

The museum is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free. For more information, call (480) 965-6224 or visit: The ASU Museum of Anthropology is located in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change building, Room 240, on the ASU Tempe campus. A map of ASU’s museum locations is online at  

Judy Newland