May 20, 2017
Art breaks borders and boundaries. Art is universal and global it can impact people beyond limitations. – Ali, forum participant
More than forty people from the Philadelphia area came together at the atrium at The Market at University Square to participate in (DIS)PLACED Public Forum #3. The Saturday afternoon continued conversations on placement and displacement, with an emphasis reflecting on one’s own culture and place of origin. Through art and conversations, a comfortable safe space was created where each attendee could share memories and personal experiences. Over the three-hour forum that included creating visual reflections on origin stories, conversations, and tasting Arab food, a palpable sense of camaraderie, fellowship and an understanding of each others culture developed.
Al-Bustan Executive Director Hazami Sayed, and Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Executive Director Jane Golden welcomed everyone, and writer Ann de Forest gave an overview of the 9 stories of Philadelphians documented as part of the (DIS)PLACED project. This is was followed with a short video about Palestinian-American graphic designer/artist Rajie Cook, and introductions on poetry and music by Huda Fakhreddine and Kinan Abou-afach.
Attendees spread out among 6 tables, with each group given a prompt to consider in relation to their own life. Excerpts taken from narratives documented by Ann de Forest inspired the selection of these prompts:
Suitcase • Keepsake • Window • Nature • Food • Sacred Object/Place
Visual artist Ali Abdel Mohsen led the art-making activity where each person was encouraged to create an artistic piece in response to these prompts. An array of unique and colorful words and images were crafted and shared with all the attendees. Here’s some of what we heard participants say in describing their artwork:
The most precious thing we brought with us here to the US is our language. – Houssam
I put in this suitcase a representation of the values, memories and principles that I had to carry with me. – Alaa
This is a landscape that is kind of an image of Maine, where my family and I would go for many years when I was younger. It became a very important, a somewhat spiritual place for me — both a place and evoking objects that were important to me growing up. – Chloe