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The Children of Syria - Opening Talk

Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 6:30

“Children of Syria” will be introduced by Ilham Mahfouz and Wojtek Sawa, as well as Dr. Abdalmajid Katranji of the Syrian-American Medical Association, who regularly goes to war-torn Syria and neighboring refugee camps on volunteer medical missions.

“Children of Syria” expands the original “Wall Speaks” installation to bridge experiences of World War II Polish children with those of children in Syria today. The multimedia installation conceived by visual artist Wojtek Sawa will feature paintings and ceramic works by Syrian-American artist Ilham Mahfouz as well as her collection of press photos depicting children in war time Syria. The exhibition will be presented in the dramatic interior of the second floor of Bank Suey. A night time video projection onto the exterior facade of Bank Suey as well as interior video projections will also be shown.

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Ilham Mahfouz is a Syrian American Artist, a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, where she majored in painting and ceramics with a minor in art history.  She lives and works in Michigan, teaching art at the Pontiac Art Center, as well as Arabic Language at University of Detroit Mercy. Ilham paints, and does mixed media pieces at home. Her work has recently been on display at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI, the New Art Museum, Armada Michigan, and in the Amnesty Human Rights international Museum  in Denmark.

Ilham was born in Damascus Syria, of which she says:

”it is a beautiful ancient city, with great ethnic and religious diversity. Its wonderful people had lived there in peace and harmony till this sad barbaric war started...My art is a reflection of the Genocide of the people of Syria, the bombing, loss of humanity, loss of involvement, loss of care for human lives. For years now, children, women, and men have been killed, tortured, have lost their loved ones, their homes, they’ve had to flee for their lives, using any means possible. It is like an Exodus of people escaping on land, seas.....People are fleeing on unsafe boats, and some have lost their lives at sea, their bodies swept by waves to  shores, children lying dead ... airstrikes have killed people through the use of banned chemical nerve gas ...yet no one has cared, no one listened, as if it is OK and these lives don't matter ....

I use mixed media paint, skulls etc... to try to show this, I express it in the darkness of colors, fear and screams frozen in ceramic figures .... some faces filled with fear, others with no emotion, as if unaware of their tragedy.

There is a link between World War II, in the installation of artist Wojtek Sawa and the Genocide of the people of Syria today .... I wonder if tyranny then was different than Now ... or Greed ... that both feed evil and Genocide...I believe we are all children of Adam and Eve, we are all sisters and brothers, we are one family of the Human race who should live in harmony and peace.”