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New Americans Museum San Diego to Unveil a Joint Project with NewSchool and South Sudanese Refugees

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Published on:

July 29, 2016


New Americans Museum San Diego to Unveil a Joint Project with NewSchool and South Sudanese Refugees

SAN DIEGO – July 27, 2016 – Hosted by the New Americans Museum located in Liberty Station, and students from NewSchool of Architecture & Design and South Sudansese refugees living in City Heights are collaborating in a one-of-a-kind arts exhibition that is part of a global journey of an arts sculpture. TED Fellow and Israeli artist Raffael Lomas has brought his unique collaborative social art to San Diego, where he has partnered with groups who wouldn’t ordinarily come together.

Lomas collaborated with a group of NewSchool students, the Leichtag Foundation, many young South Sudanese refugees, and The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), a nonprofit public policy hub based in San Diego dedicated to advancing the full economic and social inclusion of refugees. “At NewSchool of Architecture & Design, we are committed to not only learning how we can help our local community, but we are also committed to collaborating with local organizations and groups to make a positive impact on communities, right here in southern California,” said Chuck Crawford, faculty member at NewSchool. “This unique project allowed us to use one of San Diego’s richest resources: its diversity.”

The short documentary, 8000 Paper Clips and one Skype Call, by photographer and filmmaker Nitsan Tal, portrays the whole process of this project and will be featured for the first time at the New Americans Museum, a storytelling space that celebrates the contributions of all immigrants post WWII. “We are delighted to offer our ‘home’ to this unforgettable collaborative installation that unites communities, students, and artists to foster deeper connections and mutual understanding” concluded Linda Sotelo, Executive Director of the Museum.

The project, 8000 paper clips and on Skype call, created by Raffael Lomas and curated by Olga Sureda at the New Americans Museum, San Diego, will open on August 5, 2016 to the public and run through August 25, 2016. A preview reception will be held from 6-7:30pm on Thursday August 4th with the curator in attendance visiting from Spain.

About 8000 Paper Clips and One Skype Call:

The journey began in 2011 when a group of young South Sudanese refugees (some born in Israel) were deported from Israel when South Sudan declared its independence. TED Fellow and renowned Israeli artist Raffael Lomas came upon this unique situation that immediately inspired him to develop a project, when he also found out that Come True, an Israeli Organization, was providing personal sponsorship to the deported children, allowing them safe life and education in Uganda.

In his first trip to Uganda in 2014, Raffael Lomas met the student refugees, becoming aware immediately that deportation had a grave impact on the children with a loss of community and blurred their sense and understanding of a home. Together Raffael with the group of children created a unique art installation of a house made by 8000 paperclips. The foundation for the project was to create a method utilizing artistic and creative tools in order to bring about a social change. Yet, the goal was to have the piece be mobile friendly in order to rebuild it in Israel and skype the community they were forced to leave in Israel. On January 23rd 2015 at 10 am, a skype call was scheduled around the art installation house, between the refugees and their friends, sponsors, exteachers, and family, in Tel Aviv.

The art collaboration was a stepping stone which lead Raffael to travel again to Uganda (Jan 2016) to make a new collaboration happen: Lomas took a group of the Come True youth to Namatumba, a small town, where they volunteered with the community, helping to renovate the local school, teaching the Abuyudia Hebrew and basic Jewish concepts and engaging in other social activities. Through their knowledge and volunteering as teachers, they helped to bridge cultural gaps in epic proportions, an example that projects can evolve into a multi layer system with branches gasping for more light.

After returning from his second trip in Uganda, Raffael made contact with The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), a nonprofit public policy hub based in San Diego (U.S) dedicated to advancing the full economic and social inclusion of refugees.

By developing a pluralized front in collaboration with NewSchool, in which a group of students have worked on the designing and building of the house’ doors, the Leichtag Foundation, the research and community organizing PANA and all of the working efforts of many young South Sudanese refugees, this exhibition at the New Americans Museum in San Diego will be presented with the aim to emphasize the barriers that have been broken during the project in its entirety. The short documentary 8000 Paper Clips and one Skype Call, by photographer and filmmaker Nitsan Tal, portrays the whole process of this project.

Art is a practical tool to be used to bring about social change. It bridges the gap between the human emotional experience and the force that drives one to act. Within this context, the exhibition will act as a multi-medium guide to express the story of the project and a glimpse into the life of a refugee. As a chapter comes to an end, the art installation 8000 paper clips will be auctioned off and all proceeds will return to the group of young refugees.

This project shines a powerful light and beckons the question of how one can bridge the gap between the art world with social activism. A cross multi-cultural and systems thinking approach proves just how great an impact an art project can make on humanity.

For more information on the exhibition and New Americans Museum, San Diego, visit ( or contact (Linda Sotelo at

For more information on NewSchool of Architecture & Design, visit or contact Rachael Lighty at

About the New Americans Museum:

The New Americans Museum [NAM] celebrates the contributions of all immigrants post WWII, by presenting thought-provoking arts and culture programming to explore and share the diverse immigrant and mutigenerational stories of Americans. It houses an oral histories recording studio and two galleries onsite. NAM is located in the historic NTC/Liberty Station and is free and open to the public year round. Tours welcome! 619.756.7707

About NewSchool of Architecture & Design:

Located in downtown San Diego’s design district, NewSchool of Architecture & Design prepares students for career success in design fields through an emphasis on interdisciplinary and global design skills, industry collaborations and real-world projects. Programs of study include architecture, construction management, product design, media design, design studies, and interior architecture and design. The school’s design environment provides inspiration for the school’s students and faculty, recognized for their work regionally and internationally. NewSchool is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

NewSchool’s Bachelor and Master of Architecture programs are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). NewSchool is a member of the Laureate International Universities network – a global network of more than 70 campus-based and online universities with more than one million students in 25 countries. Through this network, students at NewSchool are prepared to work in a global and diverse work environment through the school’s collaborations with sister institutions in the Laureate network, including award-winning schools such as Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. For more information about Laureate International Universities, visit