Boston's newest art installation takes on world refugee crisis

The exhibit installed on Monday will be displayed until December.

Story highlights

  • Exhibit SOS was installed in the Fort Point Channel Basin in Boston
  • The artwork represents the number of refugees worldwide

(CNN)Bostonians this week were met with a stark reminder of the growing refugee crisis as they crossed over Congress Street Bridge and caught site of the city's latest art installation.

Twenty-two figurines can be seen clinging to inner tubes floating below in Fort Point Channel Basin. Each of them represents a daunting number.
"Each figure is representative of 1 million refugees worldwide," said Emily O'Neil, spokesperson for Fort Point Arts Community, the organization that commissioned the installation.
    In 2015, there were 21.3 million refugees worldwide, over half of which were under age 18, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for the Refugees.
    The 22 figures are anchored in water that separates South Boston from downtown and feeds into the Boston Harbor.
    The installation, titled "SOS (Safety Orange Swimmers)," was created by two local artists, Ann Hirsch and Jeremy Angier.

    A long history of accepting refugees

    Hirsch and Angier said that although Boston is far from the refugee crisis, it's connected in a way by the water.
    "More than that, we wanted the art we put in the water to connect this small area of Fort Point Channel to all the bodies of water that people all over the world from all times have crossed in search of security and better lives," Hirsch and Angier said in a joint statement to CNN.
    "Boston was built by people who survived these journeys and the question today is what do we do with this tradition of welcoming immigrants, especially those in danger and in need."
    Throughout its 386-year history, Boston has accepted refugees from all over the world, from Irish people escaping their country's devastating potato famine to those fleeing current conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
    In recent years, harrowing images of refugees and migrants being rescued from sinking boats trying to cross from Africa to Europe have topped the news. Nearly 300,000 people fleeing persecution have reached European shores this year alone, according to the International Organization for Migration.