Joel Bergner / Artolution

Joel Bergner is the CEO and co-founder of the nonprofit organisation Artolution, which operates on various continents, from Syrian refugee camps to American prisons, from favelas in Brazil to an orphanage in South Africa. The activities are often organised in partnership with humanitarian agencies like UNICEF and the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR). Artolution’s biggest programmes are currently in Uganda, Colombia, Bangladesh, Jordan and the US. An artist, educator and organiser of community art initiatives, he mentors and supports local artists in vulnerable communities to lead their own youth programmes, affecting the lives of thousands of children who participate in hundreds of locally led projects each year.

His elaborate murals weave smoothly between realism with an urban art sensibility and the honest expressions of children and community members. In each project, he guides participants through the process of exploring issues that are important to them. For the World Economic Forum exhibition in Davos, in 2023, four of our refugee artist teams, working with children and other community members, each created their own largescale canvas works. These teams included the Rohingya in Bangladesh, South Sudanese in Uganda, Venezuelans in Colombia and Syrians in Jordan. Each group reflected on their journey from displacement to building a new life, all of which informed the murals. They were presented together as a 4-part piece, demonstrating the diverse expressions and stories of displaced people, presented on the world stage.