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17 January 2018 08:37 am

VCUarts Qatar to hold an exhibition on social innovation at refugee camps

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One of the defining global events in recent times has been the record numbers of refugees who are fleeing conflict, persecution, or the effects of climate change. 

According to the United Nations, about 28,000 people are forced to flee their homes every day and almost 70 million people are now refugees, nearly double the number from 20 years ago. Many end up in refugee camps in places like Kara Tepe refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, where facilities can be basic at best.  

An exhibition and panel discussion called Reporting From The Field will show how faculty, students and alumni from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) are working with aid agencies to use low cost technology and practical designs to improve the situation of refugees, who are also involved in designing and producing products that make their lives easier.    

A panel discussion on humanitarian and social innovation and the empowerment of refugees will take place at the Atrium at 6pm before the opening reception at the Gallery at 7pm with representatives from local, regional, and international humanitarian organizations.  

The moderator will be Aris Papadopoulos, a humanitarian innovator, and the founder of LATRA, an award-winning incubator specializing in socially responsible projects that promote innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in the humanitarian sector.        

The exhibition takes the visitor inside the Kara Tepe refugee transit camp, and specifically the design lab that was set up by LATRA, an award-winning aid organization and design incubator from Greece specializing in socially responsible projects that promote innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in the humanitarian sector.  

The exhibition includes Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs of the refugee crisis, a full-sized refugee tent, and an on-site lab where equipment designed in Kara Tepe refugee transit camp will be reproduced by VCUarts Qatar students using 3D printers. It will also include a large-scale model of Kara Tepe refugee camp, and a video installation.  

The exhibition will take place at the Gallery at VCUarts Qatar from January 17 to February 24. An opening reception will take place at 6pm on January 17. The exhibition is free and open to the public.  

Reporting From The Field is curated by Aris Papadopoulos from LATRA, and Maja Kinnemark, Assistant Professor in Interior Design at VCUarts Qatar. Students, faculty and alumni from VCUarts Qatar’s Interior Design program, MFA in Design program, and fabrication lab were heavily involved in producing all aspects of the exhibition, some of whom visited Kara Tepe refugee camp in 2016.  

Students and faculty originally began working with a team of behavioral scientists, material engineers and local architects in 2016 who were already onsite at the Kara Tepe refugee camp to use innovative design ideas and new technologies to improve the housing situation and camp life for the people who were caught in limbo in the camp on their journey to Europe from war-torn parts of Syria or other countries, such as Afghanistan or Iraq.  

The exhibition will take place at the Gallery at VCUarts Qatar from January 17 to February 24 and is free and open to the public. The opening reception will take place at 6pm on January 17. The exhibition is open from 9am to 5pm, from Saturday to Thursday, and is closed on Fridays.  

For more information visit www.qatar.vcu.edu  

Images courtesy of VCUarts Qatar