This week, the Bezos Family Foundation’s program Students Rebuild unveiled a mural at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to celebrate the culmination of the Welcoming Refugees Project.
The mural – designed by local artist Blanca Santander – recognizes the student participants that turned art into action to raise funds for organizations providing humanitarian relief around the world. The mural includes art made by young people in the Seattle area that have participated in the Welcoming Refugees Project.
The Port of Seattle and Alaska Airlines co-hosted the event to unveil the mural at Gina Marie Lindsey Arrivals Hall at SEA, sending a message of welcome to those traveling to Seattle.
Students Rebuild works with young people all over the world to respond to global needs through the arts and creative actions. This year, Students Rebuild introduced the Welcoming Refugees Project to support organizations working with displaced families. Youth from more than 50 countries created postcards for refugee aid. For every piece of art submitted through the Welcoming Refugees Project, the Bezos Family Foundation funds organizations providing humanitarian relief around the world, including UNICEF, Choose Love, Welcoming America, World Savvy and Little Amal. These organizations raised awareness and supported refugees during critical moments this last year, including the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
“We’re proud to celebrate the culmination of the Welcoming Refugees Project in our home city of Seattle,” said Bezos Family Foundation Managing Director Chris Plutte. “As we honor World Refugee Day, we stand with all communities committed to building a welcoming and inclusive environment for refugees and immigrants across the world. We soared above expectations for the year, meeting our $1.6 million donation goal early. We couldn’t have done it without the thousands of young people across the globe who participated, and we’d especially like to thank mural artist Blanca Santander, the Port of Seattle and Alaska Airlines for helping showcase the power of collective action.”
The mural designed for display at SEA portrays Santander’s experience immigrating to Seattle through the lens of a young girl making her journey in hopes of finding a new home. The young girl depicted in the mural is navigating two worlds: one being her home in South America and the other being her new home in Seattle, and includes postcards created by young people who participated in the Welcoming Refugees Project.
Santander is a South American artist who immigrated to Seattle in 1996, escaping terrorism in her country. She reestablished her career as an artist in the greater Seattle area, exhibiting her art in various venues and acting several times as a curator for the Latino art community. She also served as an artist-in-residence in different schools across the city, and worked with the City of Seattle on several projects involving teaching and public art.
“I hope the mural welcomes children to Seattle, to show that the immigrant experience can be joyful and hopeful,” said Santander.
“SEA Airport is honored to be the home of this new temporary mural and its placement at the exit of our International Arrivals Facility reinforces our belief that all are welcome at our facilities and in our community,” said Lance Lyttle, Managing Director, SEA Airport. “We’d like to thank all of the partners involved and Blanca Santander for creating this beautiful piece.”
As of the final day of the project, nearly 200,000 postcards have been submitted to the Students Rebuild Welcoming Refugees Project, with 2,773 global teams participating.
“We’re overwhelmed by the support shown by Students Rebuild participants all over the world,” said Students Rebuild Managing Consultant Alex Manuel. “Teachers and students took action through art to show displaced families that they are welcome and embraced by their neighbors. This year’s Welcoming Refugees Project reinforced that together, we can act to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”
Below are photos from the unveiling, courtesy Students Rebuild (click arrows to view slideshow):
To learn more about Students Rebuild, the Welcoming Refugees Project and the project’s partner organizations, please visit studentsrebuild.org/refugee.