Home-Made by Seth Augustine
Every year thousands of refugees flee violent conflict, persecution, and natural disaster and seek a safe haven in the U.S. In response to this world crisis, the International Rescue Committee (I.R.C.), a leading humanitarian organization, helps refugees rebuild their lives and become self-reliant and productive members of their new communities.
Working in direct collaboration with the IRC, my project entitled Home-Made, will provide refugees who have recently arrived in America, an opportunity to reconstruct their new possessions within a creative workshop environment. Your donation is crucial– it will enable us to purchase sustainable building materials, obtain tools and equipment, lease a workshop space, and purchase audio and video documentation equipment.
Together, I will work with participating refugees to design and build the sustainable furniture they need to start a new home such as: lamps, desks, tables, chairs, dressers, bookshelves, bed frames, etc. I will provide detailed instruction in the methods and techniques needed for furniture fabrication. This will give participants a chance to learn tangible skills for future employment, while promoting the self-sufficiency necessary for their future challenges in our society. In addition, the creative design for each piece of furniture will come from the inspiration and imagination of the refugees themselves; thus generating a sense of ownership and personal empowerment.
Having to leave everything behind means abandoning the possessions we cherish most; the memories and meanings accumulated and embodied within these objects are lost. This can be a devastating blow to the way we envision our lives. Therefore, this project will also function as a cultural commons, a positive environment where the camaraderie that comes with building things acts as a catalyst for participants to exchange their personal stories, histories, ideas, and hopes for the future. Through our conversations and interactions an archive of photographs, videos, and artifacts will be collected, to serve both as a memory bank of our time spent working together and as a way of passing on our group experience to others.
This project draws strength from the collective vision of our country– a nation built upon the struggles and successes of people arriving from throughout the world. However, we are currently in the grips of converging economic, environmental, and social crises. New thinking, new ideas, and new sustainable approaches to how we build our future world are imperative in creating a better place for all of us. For me, this project is a way I can employ my skills as a builder and an artist to improve the lives of others. Through this compassion for the plight of others I ask for your donation.
Home-Made is underway!
In December I began leasing a really great space in the Wholesale District in Downtown LA. After a few weeks of fixing it up, installing various pieces of equipment, and purchasing tools and material we kicked off the project. Yasamin, Arega, Makeda, and Edison are the first four participants. They are from Iran, Ethiopia, and Uganda. We have been having a fun time building a dresser for Yasamin, a trunk for Arega, and fixing up and painting two cabinets which will be used to hold our tools and equipment. Some friends have been stopping by to hang out, and this past Saturday we had a small acoustic concert for everyone. Click on this link of pictures of the project:
Thanks again for all your support! More to come…
If you would like to learn more about this project and donate, please visit; www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/home_made
About Seth Augustine
Seth Augustine’s artwork begins by engaging with people, either through social experimentation, group participation, or public performance. Parameters help define the limits of these interactions, and in doing so generate an open space where unexpected outcomes develop. Informed by the newfound discoveries and insights learned from these engagements he creates artwork that traverses a wide range of formats including: artifact, sculpture, photography, installation, video, and drawing.
Most recently, Augustine has been living and traveling in China. In 2009 he collaborated with Shanghai-based artist Shi Yong on an extensive project working with migrant Chinese laborers. This project and other China-related projects have been exhibited in several venues both in China and the U.S.
He has earned his B.F.A. from Cornell University and his M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego. Currently, Augustine instructs 3-D Design courses at California State University Northridge.