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Artists Aim To Bring Attention To Refugee Crisis With Fort Point Floating Art

BOSTON (CBS) – When they see what looks like a group of orange people floating in the Fort Point Channel, a lot of people say, "What in the world is that?"

It's definitely a conversation starter.

There are 22 bright orange figures hugging inner tubes, floating in Fort Point Channel in South Boston.

"It's interesting.  It's sort of thought provoking," says Jarod Jackson, looking out over the water.

"I was a little confused.  I'm still a little confused," adds Amy Lu as she walks by.

Another passer-by says "They look real, which is a little scary."

Emily O'Neil, the executive director of the Fort Point Arts Community, said the display was created by two local artists, Ann Hirsch and Jeremy Angier.

The display is called "SOS" (Safety Orange Swimmers).

"I see people struggling to stay afloat. Maybe that's the message that the artist is trying to send," said Channa Wijesinghe as he observes the floating sculpture.

orange people
Sculptures at Fort Point each represent one million refugees worldwide. (WBZ-TV)

The artists who created the work say it's meant to remind us of the immigrant history of America and Boston, and to bring us into today with the refugee crisis facing the world.

"Each figure is representative of one-million refugees worldwide," said O'Neil.

The orange swimmers aren't the only public art in the area.

"Shimmer" brings color to the Congress Street bridge, reflecting on the water and on the sidewalk.

"Instead of the bridge just being a bridge, it's now a really vibrant, beautiful object," O'Neil says.

There's also the floating pyramid, and "Double Trouble," cascading water bottles splashing down in the basin, and making a statement about our dependence on petroleum products.

All this work is in the open, but this weekend, Fort Point artists invite us all inside, for open studios.

"We'll have performance art, we have ceramists, we have photographers, we have sculptors, we have painters.  We really hope people just have a broad conversation about the role of art in everyday life," says O'Neil.

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