Hopefully the vast majority of us will never experience the terrible misfortune of becoming a refugee. Many of us don’t personally know anyone who has had to flee their country in a desperate gambit to stay alive. But we do all have the power of human imagination, and with it, the capacity to understand human suffering, even when it’s taking place half a world away.

After 10 years of conflict, an estimated 13 million Syrians are currently in urgent need of help to survive. Half are displaced internally, while the other half are living in camps and urban settings in neighboring countries. The most heart wrenching fact is that about half of those suffering from the crisis are children. Many are without homes, family, or schooling. Often chronically malnourished, they are unable to meet their basic human needs. 

The staggering magnitude of destruction and suffering brought on by this catastrophe is so overwhelming that, often, it can become easier to ignore than to try to comprehend. It’s difficult and painful to try to understand any tragedy at this scale. But the fact remains that this is a very real and very global problem. 

John Akomfrah, “The Enigmatic Arrival” (image courtesy the artist)

Acting individually can feel futile, but we knew that the collective power of our art community could have a real impact. When the two of us made the commitment in early 2020 to try and raise funds for Syrian refugees through a partnership with USA for UNHCR, we believed that the art community would respond with tremendous generosity.

When COVID-19 hit shortly after, our efforts to raise funds were even more critically pressing, as refugees would become the most vulnerable group. With the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic so acutely felt in our own lives, we were reminded of how truly fortunate so many of us were to still have homes in which to take shelter, and fortunate to be able to practice social distancing. 

Despite the increased difficulties in all of our lives because of the pandemic, the generosity of our art community did not disappoint. We are deeply grateful for the extraordinary outpouring of support by artists and galleries for our art auction, Art & Resilience, benefiting displaced Syrians. The online event will be held on April 29th on Artsy, with Sotheby’s Michael Macaulay officiating, and with an in-person preview of the artworks to be held at Kasmin Gallery (297 Tenth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan) on April 28th and 29th.  All participating artists, galleries, and committee members are undertaking this effort voluntarily and without compensation. 

Judith Bernstein, “Equality” (image courtesy of Kasmin, New York)

What affects Syrians impacts humanity as a whole, and with every contribution we make today to help the victims of this decade-old conflict, we stand in solidarity against this horrific injustice. In that spirit, we have structured Art & Resilience as a completely open event, which means that anyone can watch, partake, bid, and, if so moved, make a cash contribution when the event is over. Please consider joining us on April 29th to show your support. Your soul will thank you. 

Dan Cameron has been an NYC-based curator and writer since 1979, and has collaborated extensively with Latin American artists since the early 1990s. A regular organizer of international biennials, Cameron...

Diana Al-Hadid is known for a practice that spans media and scale, and examines the historical frameworks and perspectives that shape our material and cultural assumptions. She was born in Aleppo, Syria...