The Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project of Minneapolis presents “The Art of Conflict: Identity in War and Displacement” opening July 29, 2010 at the Tarnish and Gold Gallery, 1511 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis. The visual art exhibit will feature works about violence and displacement from Iraqi and American artists. The opening event, which runs from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., will include music, refreshments and an opportunity to meet the featured artists in the gallery where 30 pieces of original work will run through August 28.
“A process of reconciliation between two groups of people must involve honest, creative dialogue about the past and its effects on the present,” said Tricia Khutoretsky, curator. “The Art of Conflict will open that dialogue and engage Minnesotans in experiencing the impact of war and displacement through art. Foreign conflicts can often seem far away, yet they are a continuing reality for many Minnesotans.”
Minnesota is home to around 90,000 refugees and 400,000 veterans. The Art of Conflict will provide an opportunity for these Minnesotans, and for all Minnesotans, to reflect on the human costs of war from both American and Iraqi perspectives.
The show’s programming will also include: a film screening of The Unreturned, an award-winning documentary about five Iraqi refugee families produced by Nathan Fisher, a Minnesota native; talks by veterans, refugee groups, and others with experience of war and displacement; an arts therapy group for mental health professionals; letter-writing to Iraqis; and special tours for school groups.
Tricia Khutoretsky (previously Heuring) has managed the art program for the past year. She finished her Masters Thesis in Arts Management at St. Mary’s University in June and is in charge of the IARP exhibition.
Mika Thuening, returned from working at a NGO in Jordan and completed her BA at the University of Minnesota. She directs the Water for Peace project and this summer will manage the four IARP summer interns.
“We are enriched by our ever expanding number of volunteers who work to promote understanding between Iraqis and Americans,” stated Kathy McKay, executive director, IARP. “The Board of Directors joins me in thanking all our volunteers.”
Seven travelers from the Minneapolis Sister City, Najaf, Iraq, arrived at the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport for a two week stay on July 16. Four of the seven are artists, and two of them, Faten Taha and Ali Ghassan will have their work featured in show.
The Iraqi artists Bilal Al-Badri and Ghalib Al-Mansoori will also attend the art show. All the artists will visit various sites and institutions, and stay with host families in the metro area. Plans for two public art activities are in the works. as a chance for local artists to paint with the Iraqi artists will be one!
The remaining three, Abdullah Khudair, Dr. Hasan Al-Azam and Sawsan Al-Baghdadi are professionals coming to participate, with other internationals, in a three day training exercise that will cover the latest treatment methodologies for children suffering from prolonged trauma.
Professor Liz Wieling, from the Family Social Science department at the University of Minnesota, will be one of the trainers. Professor Wieling visited Najaf in January of 2010 and launched a joint planning effort with professionals in Najaf to enhance and expand mental health services available to the city’s residents.
Abdullah, Dr. Hasan and Sawsan, in conjunction with Dr. Wieling, will plan the next stages in the potential development of a mental health service and training institute in Najaf. This is just one example of the growing cooperation between the University of Minnesota and Najaf’s Kufa University.
Dr. Hasan Al-Azam is a physician and a medical director. Sawsan Al-Baghdadi has her BA, is a teacher and former member of the Najaf City Council. She represents an Iraqi woman’s organization. Abdullah is a high school teacher and works with adolescents with mental health issues.