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34 paintings on display in downtown Cincinnati tell stories of refugees

Posted: 9:10 AM, Jun 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-26 16:54:22Z
34 paintings document refugees' stories

CINCINNATI -- For Kelly Anchrum, the 34 paintings on display Downtown have a way of speaking.

Each has its own story, she said; each, its own message.

The paintings are by 34 artists, each responding to stories shared by refugees. They're part of a traveling exhibit, the Columbus Crossing Borders Project, on display at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center until Aug. 19.

Anchrum is communications director for Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, which helps resettle refugees in Greater Cincinnati.

"I think that's fundamental. I think it's what makes our country great. We've always been a place of refuge," Anchrum said.

The United States has reduced the number of refugees allowed into the country from 110,000 to 45,000 and is on track to admit 21,000 refugees this year, according to data compiled by the Refugee Processing Center, a program operated by the Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. 

That would be the fewest number of refugees admitted into the United States since 1980.

Catholic Charities expects to resettle 230 people this year, "down dramatically" from 333 in 2016, she said. The organization also sponsored the exhibit, which comes in the wake of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on border security.

RELATED: Trump administration scales back key part of zero-tolerance

"This could be a girl being detained," Anchrum said of one painting, "kept in conditions you wouldn't wish on anybody's child."

She said the exhibit's goal isn't to sway people one way or another, but simply to spark a conversation.