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Refugees share their story through art for World Refugee Day

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by the end of this week whether they will hear the case of President Trump’s travel ban.

The travel ban also sparked a lot of conversation around the country and around the world about refugees. Tuesday June 20th is World Refugee Day. Artists are setting up an assortment of art at the KEXP gathering space and the Seattle Center for the 12th annual Artvocacy event. This year, executive director of the International Rescue Committee, Nicky Smith, says they have a very diverse representation.

“This year, we have Afghanistan, Burma, Ukraine, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, all over the worlds, it’s quite remarkable,” said Smith.

Artists volunteers and community s

pent the evening setting up for the event on Tuesday meeting each other and learning about the people behind the paintings.

“This is my home, I just drew my home behind the wedding celebration,” said Pietro Frediani, an artist from Eritrea. He came to the United States six years ago. The piece he painted shows what life was like at the refugee camp.

“Life was a very tough life,” said Frediani. He showed the hut he lived in for four years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia after fleeing from Eritrea. The hut, a mud-brick hut with hay as the roof. He taught art at the refugee camp. Frediani says he feels so free in the United States to paint whatever he wants, a freedom he didn’t have back home because the government would ask for political paintings.

He says the biggest difference is the freedom to do anything in the United States.

“The main thing is there is freedom to work, freedom to go to school,” said Frediani.

Another artist from Ukraine, who came to the U.S just seven months ago, Olha Moisiuk stands in front of a painting of the Black Sea coastline off the coast of Crimea, Ukraine.

“It’s warm color, very happy, very happy time for me, with my family,” said Moisiuk who recalled spending time there in 2013 as the Ukraine conflict began.

She says art should evoke happiness, she picks warm colors and light tones to contrast the tough times in her life.

“Many people lost everything, they lost their homes, but they didn’t lose hope, dreams, dreams come true, they hope to arrive and help other people,” said Moisiuk.

Helping other people is Nicky Smith’s passion and work.

“I went to Egypt for a year and got involved with refugees there, it changed my whole life,” said Smith.

She says the political climate makes events like this that much more valuable.

“It's an important time to be educated about refugees, so much false information out there, alternative facts, if you will, but truth out there that refugees are families,” said Smith.

The art will be on display during World Refugee Day Tuesday June 20th. The artists will be there, and art will also include culinary art and poetry. The event is also an opportunity for refugees to meet each other, connect with members of the community and find out what resources are available to them.