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Brunnier Art Museum

Christian Petersen Art Museum

Farm House Museum


Brunnier Art Museum

The Brunnier Art Museum is temporarily closed for renovations. 

Christian Petersen Art Museum

Unpacked: Refugee Baggage

Christian Petersen Art Museum
1017 Morrill Hall

September 4 - October 19, 2018

The uniquely beautiful and delicate creations in the exhibition Unpacked: Refugee Baggage are the work of Syrian-born artist and architect Mohamad Hafez. The stories depicted are gathered and curated by Ahmed Badr, an Iraqi-born university student, writer, activist, and refugee. Through their collaborative storytelling, they hope to humanize the many diverse people who have come to America as refugees. The stories of people forced to flee their homes, their culture, their families and how America became their new home, a place where they hoped to escape the constant fear or war and death.

Hafez carefully reconstructs miniature versions of each story and houses the highly detailed recreations within a suitcase. The suitcase further amplifies the understanding of each participant’s refugee status. They had no choice but to leave their homes, often carrying little with them, but their memories survive intact. The memories of the lives they lived in the countries they loved, mingled with the acrid taste of violence that many witnessed and experienced. Badr brings these stories to life through interview and text, using his own experiences as a refugee to sensitively tease out difficult memories and hopes for the future.

Mohamad Hafez came to the United States to study architecture at Iowa State University, but with only a single entry visa, he was unable to return to his beloved Syria. With the advent of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, his home was forever changed. 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.

As an institution that welcomed Mohamed Hafez and allowed him to build a basis for what has been a great success in this country, it is our honor to present his very important and timely exhibition. Each work of art is a chance for viewers to better empathize and come to understand the struggles of these individuals, to eliminate the stigma, and to truly see the people who carry the stamp of refugee.

Exhibition Reception: Tuesday, September 4 from 4:30 - 6:00 pm, Christian Petersen Art Museum, 1017 Morrill Hall

Artist Lecture: Wednesday, September 5 at 8:00 pm, Sun Room, Memorial Union

This exhibition is curated and organized by Mohamad Hafez with University Museums. The exhibition is supported, in part, by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Generous support for the exhibition and artist lecture was also given by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Committee; H. Dieter and Renate Dellmann; Sue and Larry Koehrsen; Sarah Nusser and Michael King; Jonathan Sukup; Julie and Len Rodman; Sidney Robinson; College of Design; Global Resource Systems; the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion; the World Affairs Series and Committee on Lectures, funded by Student Government; International Students and Scholars Office; International Studies Program; Department of World Languages and Cultures; and the Department of English.


All works of art in the exhibition were kindly loaned by the artist, Mohamad Hafez.


Farm House Museum

In Focus: Daguerreotypes, Tintypes and Photographs from the Farm House Museum Collection 

January 16 – October 31, 2018  

In 1839 the French painter Paul Delaroche stated, “From today painting is dead,” in response to watching a daguerreotype being made due to the precise detail the medium contained. The daguerreotype was the first process in a history of pioneering techniques that can be defined as photography.

Photography, as we know it today, takes place on the screen of a computer or phone, but before the invention of these devices all photographs were physical objects that could be touched, turned, held and looked at under a magnifying glass. During the 20th century most photographs were captured on light sensitive film and printed on paper in a darkroom using silver salts to chemically reproduce the image. Before the technology of film, photographers would haul around plates of metal and glass that they treated with light-sensitive chemicals to capture images. The technology required massive box cameras to hold the plates. These early photographic processes fell out of use when more convenient technologies took their place, but the detail present in images from this period is hard to replicate even with digital cameras.

The exhibition, In Focus, displays the Farm House Museum’s collection of early photography, defining the various photographic processes from the 1800s. The daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes in the exhibit will educate visitors on what photography looked like in its early years and how different the art and science of the medium is today.

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