Untitled by James Makuac

The Columbus Crossing Borders Project

This art exhibition hosted by the Dublin Arts Council reflect personal stories that put a face on the plight of refugees around the globe.

Muhammad is one of the refugees featured in “The Columbus Crossing Borders Project,” an art exhibition presented by the Dublin Arts Council that runs May 1 through June 8. Her portrait, painted by Columbus artist David Denniston, is pensive, hopeful and focused, imprinted with colorful Morse Code dashes and dots against a gray background. Other paintings in the exhibition touch on themes of family, isolation and hope.

“We didn’t want to go sharing statistics and faceless people that have labels, we wanted this to be about human beings,” says  “The Columbus Crossing Borders Project” director and producer Laurie VanBalen.

VanBalen asked 33 other artists, 30 of whom are from central Ohio, to take part in the project. After choosing a theme or personal story as inspiration, each artist was also tasked with incorporating a feature from an adjacent work into their own as a way to create border crossings within the exhibition itself. 

“I started feeling the need to somehow advocate for those 65 million people who really have nowhere to go, who are being forced from their homes,” VanBalen says. “And it was never a political issue, it was a humanitarian effort. It was an effort based on ‘Well, when did we stop caring about each other?’ ”

Dublin Arts Council hosts the free exhibition May 1 through June 8. In a community where one in six residents is foreign-born, Dublin Arts Council executive director David Guion hopes it will draw attention to Dublin’s many cultures.

“There’s a lot of diversity here, but I think people are unaware of it,” he says. “This is another way of raising awareness of the diversity in the community and bringing people together to celebrate that diversity.” 


For more information, visit dublinarts.org.

(Artwork credit: untitled work by artist James Makuac)