“Stamps of Hope: A Traveling Exhibit by Syrian Refugee Artists” will be on display Feb. 26-April 6 in the Contemporary Gallery, located in Room 111 in the Instructional Resources building at STLCC-Florissant Valley, 3400 Pershall Road.
The artwork was created by a team of six artists from the Zaa’tari Refugee Camp in Jordan, a country that neighbors Syria.
The artists who contributed to the exhibit were discovered on Facebook by Rihab Sawah, a physics professor at STLCC-Florissant Valley.
“During their time at the Zaa’tari Refugee Camp, these individuals painted on canvases from the tents they lived in, drew on scrap paper and created mixed media from what they could find,” said Sawah. “The result is a body of artwork celebrating the hope of a war-torn region and the people who left their homes to create a better life for themselves and their families. I am so glad we are able to share their creations and stories with the public through this exhibit.”
It makes sense that the art exhibit would find itself in St. Louis. There are many Syrian refugees who live in the region.
In 2016, The International Institute of St. Louis, an organization that helps immigrants and new Americans, helped resettle 280 Syrians in the area. In 2015-2016, the city of St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed Resolution No. 108, which focused on continuing efforts to welcome immigrants to the community and supporting Syrian resettlement in St. Louis.
The exhibit was organized by Sawah and Deb Jenkins, director of the Contemporary Art Gallery.
“I felt this work was too important, and that more people needed to experience it, so Rihab and I talked about it traveling outside of St. Louis first, but ending with a celebration at the Florissant Valley campus,” said Jenkins.
“Stamps of Hope” has been displayed at community colleges in the Midwest. It started its journey at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Neb.; continued to Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Kalamazoo, Mich.; and then the Oak Ridge campus of Roane State Community College in Tennessee.
“My hope is that those who view the art will be touched by it and transformed,” Sawah said. “Those who have viewed this artwork thus far have shared with me how it has reconstructed part of their inner landscape, giving them a glimpse into the emotions some of these individuals experienced.”
Sawah added that the exhibit helps lay the ground work for welcoming students from all walks of life to St. Louis Community College, as they feel a kinship with the visual stories the artists created.
This exhibit is free and open to the public. STLCC-Florissant Valley will host a reception for the exhibit on March 22.
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