Contact: Sasha Steinberg
STARKVILLE, Miss.—“UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage,” a first-of-its-kind multi-media installation, is opening next week at Mississippi State’s Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery.
Displayed Sept. 30-Nov. 1 on the second floor of MSU’s Welcome Center, the exhibition is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, Mississippi Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Criss Trust. Co-organizers are the Department of Art in MSU's College of Architecture, Art and Design, and the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Gallery viewing hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and a public reception for the exhibition will be held Sept. 30 from 4-5:30 p.m. in the same location.
Created during summer 2017, “UNPACKED” features the work of Syrian-born artist and architect Mohamad Hafez and Iraqi-born writer and speaker Ahmed Badr.
Lori Neuenfeldt, MSU instructor of art and gallery director, said both collaborators have been personally impacted by the refugee experience, giving them a deeper sense of connection and understanding with this exhibition.
“For this installation, Hafez sculpturally creates miniature versions of rooms, homes, buildings and landscapes that have suffered the ravages of war. Each is embedded with the voices and stories of real people—from Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Iraq and Sudan—who have escaped those same rooms and buildings to build a new life in America,” Neuenfeldt explained. “Their stories are collected and curated by Badr, who attends Wesleyan University and is himself an Iraqi refugee.”
Neuenfeldt said visitors can listen to short audio clips while reading the stories online and on placards next to each piece in the exhibition. For more information, visit https://www.unpackedrefugee.com/aboutunpacked.
Several exhibition-related activities also are planned for the end of the month and October. Free and open to the public, they include:
—Sept. 30, 10 a.m., Fowlkes Auditorium in Colvard Student Union, “Communicating Migrant Identity” panel discussion featuring Hafez; Jenna Altomonte, assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Art; Milena A. Melo, assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures; and Keith Moser, professor in MSU’s Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures.
—Sept. 30, 6 p.m., Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium at Giles Hall, “Mohamad Hafez Artist Talk and Q&A.”
—Oct. 18, 8-10 a.m., Starkville Community Theatre at 108 E. Main St., “Storytelling Workshop by Ahmed Badr,” highlighting the importance of empowering youth through art and storytelling.
—Oct. 18, 6 p.m., Room 1030 at MSU’s Old Main Academic Center, “Ahmed Badr Public Talk and Q&A.”
In addition to the Department of Art and the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, the exhibition and related programs are organized by various departments housed in the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences, along with the No Lost Generation and MSU Anthropology Club student groups, and the university’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, International Institute, Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, Cobb Institute of Archaeology, and Social Science Research Center.
For more information, contact Neuenfeldt at 662-325-2970 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Hsain Ilahiane, professor and head of the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, at 662-325-0136 or email@example.com.
Learn more about MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design and its academic programs at www.caad.msstate.edu; the College of Arts and Sciences at www.cas.msstate.edu; Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at www.amec.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.