328 Regent St, Lansing, MI 48912   +1-517-667-8178

12 Months of Refugees by Sarah Hillman

We are extremely excited to announce our 12 months of Refugees awareness campaign support by the amazing Sarah Hillman. Migration has always been portrayed as unwanted or “illegal” in the United States. In the real world, we know that migration is simply a human process.

We migrate for love, economic reasons, community, safety, resources, etc. No reason for migration is inherently bad. It’s how we treat that migration that causes issues. Without access to safe housing and adequate resource distribution, migration can mean conflict and scarcity. The truth is we have enough resources for everyone and the Umoja House proves it!

This month is in recognition of Malala. Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Awarded when she was 17, she is the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate, and the second Pakistani and the first Pashtun to ever receive a Nobel Prize. She’s known for standing up against the Taliban for her and other young girls rights to obtain an education.

About the Artist

Lansing-based multimedia artist Sarah Hillman was born in Cape Town, South Africa, raised in Windhoek, Namibia, and moved permanently to Michigan after graduating high school. Sarah drew her first portrait at age two (it was of Rumpelstiltskin, and looked like a sad potato) and has been making art ever since. She has got much better at it since, and now very few of her portraits look like potatoes at all.

Sarah works in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, digital painting, ceramic sculpture and ‘rock art’ (which is the fine art of finding rocks on the beach and gluing them onto mat board to make pictures!) She uses her art to celebrate the beauty of the natural world, teach her children about life, and tell stories about people. 

My portraits are a celebration of people. Their lives, their achievements, their unique humanity – these are the things I try to capture using different styles and colors and mediums. I love drawing people’s faces. Each face tells a story about the life that person has lived, the challenges they’ve overcome, and the story they’re a part of. There’s something very enjoyable, and very challenging, in trying to tell someone’s story without words.

In partnering with Umoja House on this one year portrait series, I get to use art to tell the stories of refugees who’ve overcome enormous obstacles in their lives, and gone on to use their skills and talents to make the world a better place for others.  I love what Charla is doing here in Lansing, providing a safe space for people whose stories have brought them to Lansing, while they seek refuge, pursue education, or work to find stability in life. As an immigrant myself, I love how diverse and multicultural Lansing is, and I’m grateful to be a part of any effort celebrating and pursuing that aspect of our city.

-Sarah Hillman

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You can help support our mission to create no barrier housing by purchasing Sarah’s art in our store. We are sure to have something for everyone but if you want to see something special, please email us (info@umoja.house).

Check out our shop and everything over the cost of production goes to subsidizing migrants room and board, building curriculum for no barrier housing, and the beautification of properties to revitalize Lansing, MI! Be the change you want to see in the world <3

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