We Are Royale, Artolution Bring Refugee Kids’ Art to Life in Animated AR Mural

Creative production studio We Are Royale has partnered with Artolution, an international community-based public art organization, to bring its latest public mural to life with augmented reality. Located in New York City’s East Village, the mural highlights the stories, struggles and dreams of immigrant and refugee youth seeking safety in the United States.

Fifteen teenagers and children from Central America created original artwork for the mural under the mentorship of Artolution artists. The project provided an educational and therapeutic experience for the children, who are clients of KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), a non-profit that provides pro-bono legal services to unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children.

The AR experience launched during a public event on August 28 in front of the mural, located on the Key Food supermarket on Avenue A. Using an iOS and Android compatible app (in English and Spanish), visitors can hold their smartphones up to view the mural, and the characters in the artwork will emerge from the wall, moving and dancing — and learn more about this meaningful initiative.

Artolution tasked We Are Royale with bringing vitality the youths’ art through animation and AR. The project marks the second partnership between Artolution co-founder Joel Bregner and We Are Royale, following the mural-based teaser campaign Amazon Prime Video series Goliath, starring Billy Bob Thornton.

“This project was an incredible experience for all of us who were involved,” said Bergner. “I enjoyed partnering with [We Are Royale ECD and Partner] Brien [Holman] and the whole Royale team as we guided our youth participants in the creation of their own characters, which were manifested through the mural, mask-making, and performance. The animation and augmented reality elements were especially exciting, as this is the first time that an AR mural has been created with youth, so we all had the sense that we were making history.”

For We Are Royale, this project brought together many of the studio’s skill sets and passions: contributing time and resources to social awareness projects, and fluidly designing for various mediums, from character and app design to UX and AR. To create the character animations, We Are Royale took inspiration from the video footage the team shot of the young artists doing their dance choreography at the close of the mural unveiling event last month.

“We wanted to faithfully recreate what the participants created,” said Holman. “While we provided some guidance on how best to design their characters for the animation and AR aspect of the project, the youth actually took the lead in directing us. Ultimately, this was about empowering them through art. It was amazing to see how everyone opened up in the process — and all the credit goes to Joel and his team at Artolution who dedicate their lives to making beautiful initiatives like this happen.”

Bregner concluded, “This creative platform that the project has given these young people is especially important given the challenges that they’ve faced fleeing from violence and conflict, and starting over in a new country. It’s critical that we create these opportunities for displaced children to build community, shape their own narratives, and begin the healing process after the trauma they’ve experienced. The arts and technology are powerful tools to achieve this.”



Artolution is an international, community-based public art organization based in New York City which seeks to ignite social change through collaborative art-making, bringing together diverse communities in the face of conflict and social exclusion in order to address the trauma and challenges that they face. www.artolution.org

We Are Royale is an award-winning creative production studio with offices in L.A. and Seattle. Founded in 2007, the company is known for its end-to-end creative solutions, diverse capabilities and fluency across platforms. www.weareroyale.com

Animation Magazine

Hawaii flight stowaway’s family split for years, refugee mom says

(Reuters) – The Somali mother of a teen stowaway who survived a flight from California to Hawaii in the plane’s wheel well said in a radio interview from a refugee camp in Ethiopia that she had not been able to speak to her son for years before his risky adventure.

The boy sneaked into the wheel compartment of a Boeing 767 that took off on Sunday from San Jose International Airport, becoming one of only a fraction of stowaways to emerge alive after such a treacherous trip. He told investigators he wanted to go to Africa to see his mother, according to CNN.

The mother, Ubah Mohamed Abdulle, fled Somalia and lives in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where she told Voice of America that she was divorced from the boy’s father, who lives in Santa Clara with the teenager and two of his siblings.

Abdulle said she has been completely cut off from her children since 2006 and wants to be reunited with them in the United States.

“They were even told that I was dead, but they recently found out that I was alive,” she told the broadcast service in a report published on Friday.

“I felt bad that he risked his life,” she said. “I was told that he did this because of me.”

In a Voice of America interview this week, the boy’s father identified him as Yahya Abdi, and said his son was longing for his native Africa.

FBI special agent Tom Simon earlier this week declined to comment on the possibility the teenager was trying to reach Africa. He said the boy randomly chose a Maui-bound Hawaiian Airlines jet and climbed into its wheel well, passing out soon after take-off in freezing temperatures and with low oxygen levels during the five-and-a-half hour flight.

The teen remained in a Hawaii hospital on Friday in protective custody of child welfare authorities, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Human Services, Kayla Rosenfeld, said in an email. She did not release details on his condition.

The boy’s father, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, told Voice of America on Wednesday the family anticipated that the boy would soon be returned home to California.

Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Australian immigration minister to stop risky refugee from released into community: Greens

that flexibility. There is always the exception that ministerial discretion will take place,” Senator Brown told ABC Television, adding “the legislation like this is subject to committee scrutiny and to input from, not just community groups, but from
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