Six Artists, Six Voices:
A Conversation with Jake Halpern and New Haven’s Refugee Artists
New Haven, Conn. (August 16, 2016) – In a fitting finale to one of the New Haven Museum’s most powerful exhibitions, acclaimed author, journalist, NPR contributor and Yale fellow Jake Halpern will lead a discussion with the six artists whose work comprise “Stories from Far and Near: Refugee Artists in New Haven,” on Thursday, September 8, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. Once silenced in their home countries, the artists are now free to discuss the persecution, fear and anxiety they faced prior to taking refuge in New Haven, and express their views on the catharsis of artistic expression.
Halpern developed an interest in the plight of refugees several years ago while working on a story for New York Magazine. He is currently wrapping up a long-term, refugee-related project for The New Yorker. Serendipitously—while picking up his son who was playing at the house of guest curator Susan Clinard earlier this year—Halpern spied several photos she was considering for the Museum’s exhibition, stunning black-and-white portraits taken by Iraqi refugee Maher Shakir. “The photos just stopped me in my tracks,” says Halpern. “I had been documenting my story on a refugee for months, and when I saw Maher’s work I was struck by how evocative they were of the humanity of his fellow refugees.” Indeed, Halpern was so captivated by the photos that he purchased one as a gift for his father’s upcoming 70th birthday.
Joining Halpern for the discussion with the artists will be the show’s guest curator, Susan Clinard, executive director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services of New Haven, Chris George, and Syrian artist and architect Mohamad Hafez.
“Stories from Far and Near: Refugee Artists in New Haven” includes a variety of works—ceramic sculpture, photography, oil paintings, handmade ceramic tiles, clay masks and wooden sculpture—created by the following artists: Ridha Ali Ahmed, from Iraq; Moussa Gueye, from Mauritania; Wurood Mahmood, from Iraq; Dariush Rose, from Iran, and Maher Shakir, from Iraq. The show also includes the posthumous exhibition of work by Johnny Mikiki Bombenza, whose heart-rending story weaves a path from the Congo, to Morocco, and Russia, and, finally, New Haven. Also on view is an installation designed by Hafez and created by Syrian refugee children. The exhibition will close on September 10, 2016.
About the New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum has been collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven since its inception as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862. Located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue, the Museum brings more than 375 years of New Haven history to life through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach. For more information visit www.newhavenmuseum.org or Facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183.