Refugees-inspired art-and-film-centered Columbus Crossing Borders Project spending time at Lakeland

More than 30 artists and a film crew are shining a light on the “millions of people are fleeing war, terror and persecution” via The Columbus Crossing Borders Project, consisting of a traveling art exhibit and film that will spend two days at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland.

Mark Gingerich

Debra Joyce Dawson
(All images of art works courtesy of Lakeland Community College)

Some background on The Columbus Crossing Borders Project — led by Laurie VanBalen, project director and producer — from its website:

Through partnership with Community Refugee and Immigration Services, the audience is given an intimate look into the arduous journeys of refugees who are willing to share their stories on film. Fueled by these stories, the 34 artists of this project work as a cooperative community, having been challenged to ‘cross the borders’ into each others’ paintings. The result is a visual collage served up as tribute to the resilience, the strength of spirit and the devotion to loved ones that sustains those who have lived through such hardship.

Paula ColmanMichael Guinane

The 50-minute film “Breathe Free,” a big component of the effort, was directed by Doug Swift.

Here’s the schedule for what’s planned at Lakeland, taken from material provided by the college:

Art exhibit:

See how 34 artists demonstrate the concept of crossing borders as they honor the refugee experience.

The Gallery at Lakeland

3 p.m. Sept. 11 through 5 p.m. Sept. 12


Come hear from the creators of the project and enjoy some international food and music.

The Gallery at Lakeland

5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 11 and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 12

“Breathe Free, the documentary film (50 min.):

Meet the artists who teach us empathy. Meet the support workers who teach us compassion. Meet the refugees.


3 and 7 p.m. Sept. 11 and 10 a.m. and 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Sept. 11.
Visit or call 440.525.7322 for more details.

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