In the Loop
General News : Dec 6, 2016

UF Digital Worlds uses art to understand the refugee crisis

By Ansley Pentz

UF Digital Arts and Sciences students’ animations flew around the room to reveal facts about the current refugee crisis.

In Digital Worlds’ panoramic theater (the Polymodal Immersive Classroom Theater, known as the PICT), statistics regarding the refugee crisis slid into view.  Then spoken-word poetry met the rhythm of words like “families,” “factions,” and “violence.”

“Facing the Refugee Crisis,” a show produced by DW students, analyzed how war shapes foreign countries, like Syria and Turkey, and how it affects families caught in the crossfire, said Andrew Quimby, a UF theatre student.

The production illustrated who refugees are, where they’re fleeing to, and who’s responsible for taking care of them.  Then, it showed audience members how they can help.

“We propose that art and expression are essential mediums through which we can make a difference, to start discussions and introduce new ideas,” Quimby said.

Using animated infographics, the video portion of the show explained that refugees, whose home countries are no longer safe for them, have been seeking asylum in countries within the European Union.  

But the EU was unprepared for this large influx of people, according to the video.  Today, there are 21.3 million refugees in the world.

The show’s purpose was to have audience members feel informed about the refugee crisis and empowered to make the choice to help.  To do so, the production featured a live discussion about refugees between UF students Melody Mullally and Anna Martinson, along with interpretive dancing by UF student Andrea Ward.

During the last portion of the event, Rana Al-Nahhas read a spoken-word piece about her experience as a refugee.  She asked the audience where a Syrian refugee’s home is.

“Theirs is all rubble and mass graves,” she said.

To watch the video and see our full photo gallery, visit