Written by Lauriston Brewster

Did you know that One in every 122 people on earth is a refugee?

Houston is a mosaic of culture and we owe a large part of that diversity to our stellar reputation as a safe haven for people escaping strife in their homelands. In fact, Harris County alone welcomed refugees from 40 different countries in fiscal year 2014, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

And despite what some lawmakers would have you believe, refugees actually enrich our communities and contribute to our economy.

As of today, the total number of people forcibly displaced from their homes has reached about 60 million, the highest ever recorded (more than half of them are children).

REFUGEE at Silver Street Studios is a means to highlight the global scale of this humanitarian crisis through art. The Anneberg Space for Photography commissioned five internationally-renowned photographers to document the lives of the displaced on five continents, capturing the full range of the refugee experience: the courage to cross dangerous waters and contested lands, the strength to persevere in the face of harrowing conditions, the hope of finding a better life, and the beautiful humanity that bleeds through the heart of a crisis.

Artists (Area Covered)

Lynsey Addario (Myanmar) – an American photojournalist with numerous accolades who regularly works for the The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time magazine.  Her first book, It’s What I Dowas released in 2015 and chronicles her professional and personal life as a photojournalists coming of age in the post-9/11 world.

A photograph by Lynsey Addario of young woman in Say Tha Mar Gyi Camp

Lynsey Addario Say Tha Mar Gyi, Myanmar, 2015 A.* cooks in her family home in Say Tha Mar Gyi Camp. She is married, but her husband left her within the last year to return to his family. ©Lynsey Addario (*Name withheld for protection)

Omar Victor Diop (Central African Republic and Cameroon)-  lives in Dakar, Senegal. He revoked the world of corporate communications to focus on a career in photography. His body of work includes Fine Arts and Fashion Photography as well as Advertising Photography. He enjoys mixing his photography with other forms of art, such as costume design, styling and creative writing.

A photograph of a mother named Hawa and her infant son, Ibrahima.

Omar Victor Diop Mbile refugee site, Cameroon, 2015 Young Ibrahima has spent his entire life in Mbile. When his mother, Hawa, fled the Central African Republic, she had to make the long, difficult journey while pregnant. They still have no news of his father’s whereabouts. Hawa hopes that Ibrahima will get an education and look after her in her old age. ©Omar Victor Diop

Graciela Iturbide (Columbia)- born in Mexico City, she went to film school to become a film director but was drawn to photography, becoming an assistant to famed Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo.  Her work has been exhibited internationally and is included in many major museum collections.

Photograph of Children in Puente Nayero playing an improvised game of table football

Graciela Iturbide Buenaventura, Colombia, 2015 Children in Puente Nayero play an improvised game of table football. The success of the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space has encouraged residents on the neighboring street of Punta Icaco to begin organizing to create their own humanitarian space. ©Graciela Iturbide

Martin Schoeller (The United States)-  is an award-winning portrait photographer renowned for extreme- close up portraits. Familiar faces are treated with the same levels of scrutiny as the un-famous. His portraits are exhibited and collected internationally, including in several solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States and are included in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. He studied at Lette Verein in Berlin and lives and works in New York City.

Portraits of refugees who have recently resettled in the United States as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

Martin Schoeller New York, New York, 2016 New Americans: Portraits of refugees who have recently resettled in the United States as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. From left to right: Bhimal, 42, Bhutan; Maryna, 27, Belarus; Patricia, 22, Democratic Republic of the Congo. ©Martin Schoeller

Tom Stoddart (Europe)– His career began in a local newspaper in Europe and found himself in some historic events: he has documented the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Romanian Revolution, the Rwanan genocide, and the election of Nelson Mandela. Now established as one of the worlds most respected photojournalists, Stoddart is represented by, and works closely with Getty Images, to produce powerful photo-essays on the serious world issues of our time.

A black and white photograph of a father raising his young child to celebrate his family's safe passage to Lesbos after crossing over the Aegean Sea from Turkey

Tom Stoddart Lesbos, Greece, 2015 A father celebrates his family’s safe passage to Lesbos after a stormy crossing over the Aegean Sea from Turkey. ©Tom Stoddart

The REFUGEE exhibit is running from May 11 to July 15.

FotoFest Gallery hours are Wednesday – Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Admission is free!