Volunteers are lending their time, celebrities use their fame, while others donate money. People everywhere– including artists– are showing their solidarity with the refugee crisis and are trying to raise awareness of the human suffering happening in the Aegean Sea.
Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei posed as Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who washed up on a Turkish beach last year and Georgia Lale, a New York-based Greek performance artist is roaming the streets of New York wearing an orange life vest, hoping to raise awareness amongst the millions of tourists and residents of America’s biggest city, thousands of miles away from the crisis.
A Bulgarian cartoonist named Jovcho Savov is also expressing himself– and trying to raise his own awareness of the human suffering. He transformed Picasso’s epic painting into his own, morphed creation called “Aegean Guernica”. The cartoon depicts the drowning bodies of refugees in the Aegean. Savoy’s inspiration dates to 1937, when the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso expressed his hatred for fascism and Franco’s regime by painting “Guernica” after the Nazi bombing of the Basque country village of Guernica in northern Spain. Picasso’s Guernica is believed to have helped bring worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War and the suffering it caused to average people. And although Weiwei, Lale and Savoy’s international acclaim may not be that of Picasso’s (yet)– certainly these artists are reaching new communities of people who may not be aware of the crisis and are offering their own expressions of the crisis in ways that a news story online, or a simple photo that appears on a Facebook newsfeed, cannot.