Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Oregon Iraqi Refugee Project

The Oregon Iraqi Refugee Project is intended to bring communities together. Portland Photographer/Writer Jim Lommasson is currently photographing and interviewing Oregon's new Iraqi immigrants who have moved here since 1990. He will create an exhibition and festival that will include photographs and text from interviews that he will conduct with the participants. This project dovetails with Lommasson's visual and oral history of returning American soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Lommasson feels that there is another side of the story that is relevant to this project; those who have left their homeland and are now resettling around the world. We have some of those exiles living in our community now. They are rather invisible, and many are struggling. Because of language and logistics, many Iraqi families do not know other Iraqi families. They often come with little, receive help from local agencies, and then must fend for themselves. Lommasson believes that Americans and Oregonians should know more about our new citizens who have fled their homeland to start new lives in our community. Portland has an opportunity to enrich our community and build bridges of peace, friendship and understanding through awareness, and education.

There will be an exhibition of photographs and text from interviews at The Launch Pad Gallery in October, 2011. Iraqi music and food will be served at the opening reception.

The Oregon Iraqi Refugee Project is funded in part by The Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC).


Exhibition:
What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization

Photographs by Jim Lommasson. 

Paintings by Iraqi artists who now live in Portland, Farooq Hassan and Samir Khurshid.

October  7- 29, 2011
Opening Reception: First Friday, October 7, 6PM – 12AM (Iraqi music and food)
Panel Discussion: Saturday, October 22, 2PM

Launch Pad Gallery
534 SE Oak Street
Portland, OR 97214
971.227.0072
Gallery Hours: Thursday Through Saturday, Noon - 6


What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization project is about leaving one’s homeland. Lommasson is photographing those few important personal items that have survived the long journey from Iraq to the U.S. The journey may take months, sometime even years, and includes refugee camps, piles of documents and possibly a few bribes. After photographing the objects, Lommasson asks the participants to write about the significance of their objects on the finished photographs.