Refugee Stories: The Art of Mohamad Hafez

Mohamad Hafez

Wednesday, 05 Sep 2018 at 8:00 pm – Sun Room, Memorial Union

Mohamad Hafez came to the United States to study architecture at Iowa State University and was unable to return to his beloved Syria. With the advent of the Syrian civil war in 2011, his home was forever changed. He will speak about his art, his refugee experience, and the stories of refugees from around the world, which he visually recreates in his exhibition Unpacked. The exhibit features miniaturized re-creations of a moment in time or a memory, each placed within a suitcase and accompanied by a recording of the refugee's story told in his or her own words. 

The exhibition "Unpacked: Refugee Baggage" is in the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall, September 4-October 19.

No podcast recording for this event.
The exhibition Unpacked tells the stories of different refugees through Hafez’s miniaturized recreations of a moment in time or memory recollected by the refugee and are placed within a suitcase. This is also accompanied by an audio component with the story told in their own words. Many of his artistic recreations exhibit a sense of nostalgia for what was, the homes and culture these refugees took pride in, but shown in the midst of their destruction. Each story is unique, yet each story tells of a great sense of loss coupled with the courage and force of will it took each refugee to leave their home.

More about Mohamad Hafez
Mohamad Hafez was born in Damascus, raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and educated in the Midwestern United States. He serves as a 2018 Yale University Silliman College Fellow.

Expressing the juxtaposition of East and West within him, Hafez’s art reflects the political turmoil in the Middle East through the compilation of found objects, paint and scrap metal. Using his architectural skills, Hafez creates surrealistic Middle Eastern streetscapes that are architectural in their appearance yet politically charged in their content.

His artwork has recently been featured in four highly acclaimed exhibitions and profiled in National Public Radio, The New York Times, and The New Yorker.

Photo credit Cole Wilson

Related Events

Unpacked: Refugee Baggage
Exhibition opening reception
4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, Christian Petersen Art Museum
Exhibition runs through Oct. 19

University Museums Series

Film showing: The Age of the Stateless (Le Temps Des Egares)
2-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9
Christian Petersen Art Museum

War, the Refugee Crisis and the Global Response
4-5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28
Christian Petersen Art Museum
Nell Gabiam, associate professor of anthropology, will discuss responses to the global refugee crisis.

Developing Empathy: The Refugee Experience
2-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7
Christian Petersen Art Museum
Drawing on her collaborative work with Facing History and Ourselves, Katherine Bruna, associate professor of education, will model the organization’s resources and pedagogical strategies to encourage the development of connections to the refugee experience through this exhibition.

Refugee Stories at Iowa State
4-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11
Christian Petersen Art Museum
ISU faculty, staff and students will share their own stories about the refugee experience to further understanding, empathy and inclusion at Iowa State.

Cosponsored By:
  • College of Design
  • College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Diversity & Inclusion Committee
  • English
  • Global Resource Systems Program
  • International Studies Program
  • National Organization of Minority Architects
  • University Museums
  • World Affairs
  • World Languages & Cultures
  • Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government)

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