Please join us at the Opening Ceremony for Sister Cities International 59th Annual Conference, Bridging Generations For Peace. This event will take place at Peavey Plaza (10th Street at Nicollet Mall) on Friday, July 17th at 10:00 AM.
This ceremony is free and open to the public to enjoy.
The Opening Ceremony includes a parade of flags representing 120 cities, the singing of our National Anthem by Alyssa Herick, and remarks from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Sister Cities International’s President and CEO, Mary D. Kane and other special guests.
More info about the conference: http://www.sister-cities.org/annual-conference
Watch the video below! Can you spot Kathy McKay and Sami Rasouli?
Event Recap by Sarah Kanan
In the 70s, millions of visitors would come to Babylon (currently known as Hila, Iraq) to visit the famous Gate of Ishtar, named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Gate of Ishtar is a symbol of Iraq history and a cultural symbol of pride and beauty for all Iraqis around the world, making it a perfect choice for artist Sari Abdullah to introduce visitors to the exhibit at the Festival of Nations.
As you enter the Festival, visitors and children stop at the information desk and purchase a passport that serves as their key to the 45 countries represented in the 2015 Festival of Nations. Two countries down from the main entrance, visitors are welcomed by a tall, majestic blue and gold gate serving as the gate to the city of Babylon (currently Iraq). Visitors would walk in and see a variety of artistic, colorful displays including folklore paintings on walls, brass carved pieces of tea sets, finjans, decorative plates, palm trees, painted rocks, paper currencies, packaged food, and Iraqi folk music surrounding a small room, accompanied by a slideshow of Iraq from a perspective not seen before by many visitors. They were joined by Sarah (myself) dressed in a blue Iraqi gown and Sari, Ali, Jamal and Faisal dressed in Iraqi modern and cultural costume. (Pictured above: Sarah, Sari and Ali).
Children would come by to hear stories about Iraq, including the story behind the Gate of Ishtar, learn more about Iraqi food, currency, art and music and leave with a stamp on their passports. We also offered dates. Iraq’s participation in the Festival of Nations was perfect timing given the situation in Iraq today. There is another side to Iraq that many have not seen…it’s a beautiful place with beautiful culture, a vast history, ordinary people and a positive aspect that shows art, food, music and a happier/safer/more optimistic picture than what many see in the media and picture in their mind. Sari Abdullah chose to recreate the Gate of Ishtar because it is an artistic symbol of Iraq’s history, Iraq’s beauty and pride. It illustrates only a fraction of the riches in the country, and as the entrance to Babylon, visitors are taken into a different world within the exhibit through the art, food, music and Iraqi people presented at the festival.
This was the first year Iraq has been represented in this deceased old St. Paul festival, and as an added accomplishment, the booth was awarded “Best Exhibit”!
We’d like to extend a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped make this event a success.
Click any image to view larger. All images by Sarah Kanan.
IARP is pleased to share our 2014 Annual Report. To download the full report, click here:
We would like to recognize and sincerely thank our 2014 donors. We are grateful for your support!
Elizabeth & Forrest Bentley
John and Marie Braun
Steve & Christine Clemens
Nick & Nancy Eltgroth
Federal Group LLC
Ken & Mary Gleason
Jeff & Karin Grosscup
Philip & Joan Haan
Fletcher & Joan Hinds
Jeremy Iggers & Carol Bouska
Daniel Leisen & Andi Kuenning
Chuck & Bertha Lutz
Marsha McDonald & Amos Rosenbloom
Christopher Meyer & Ruth Adix
Network for Good – Google
Karen Osborne Pope
Mark & Linda Raderstorf
Pat & Narmin Ralston
Carroll & Ann Rock
St. Augustine’s Catholic Church
John (Skip) Valusek
***for any changes or omissions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org***
EXCLUSIVELY!! And for the first time at the Minnesota Festival of nations… Iraq will be represented amongst global cultures and languages.
Please join us in celebrating Iraqi culture and art at the Saint Paul RiverCentre between April 30th and May3rd, 2015.
We will be providing additional information on the exact location of our booth within the EXHIBIT section of the festival.
IARP is very excited and looks forward to seeing you all there!!
More details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/432874420212615/
Pictured here… one of the most memorable pieces from the IARP Iraqi art collection, “Portrait of a Young Iraqi Woman” by Ali Ghassan. 10 years ago, a project was initiated by a group of volunteers to carry Iraqi artworks, rolled and folded, in suitcases from Najaf to Minneapolis. The canvases were stretched and unstretched, showing wear as they traveled. They served as a connection point for Iraqis and Minnesotans in the midst of war and confusion. Despite its humble beginnings, the project initiated IARP’s Iraqi Art Project program, a platform which went on to provide opportunities for the development of major exhibitions, touring exhibitions, video projects and cross-cultural dialogues.
Location: IARP Office. 416 E. Hennepin Ave, Suite 116, Minneapolis 55414
The Iraqi Voices project was initiated and executed in the hopes that the stories would be shared and widely viewed. We enjoyed quite a bit of local exposure with the project, but a couple of weeks ago a surprise effect occurred online, Sarah Kanan’s 3 minute film for Iraqi Voices. “Torn Between” went VIRAL! A large website in Baghdad and a US-Iraq site both picked up the video and the response was immense. The film was viewed in one weekend by over 50,000 people. Sarah was overwhelmed by the outpouring of comments and emotions. Below, she translates and shares with us some of her favorite comments from online viewers:
عاشت ايدج على هذا الفيلم المعبر والمؤثر نتمنى لك العوده لموطنك الأصلي رغم كل الجراحات والدموع والماساة يبقى الوطن عزيز وهو يجمعنا ويغمرنا بمحبته
Bless your soul for this expressive and influential film. I wish you return to your original country of origin… despite all the pain and tears and tragedies, Iraq remains dear in our hearts…it embraces us with love and keeps us together.
ساره تعالي بعد ميتحسن الوضع لان ماريد هذا الجمال الي راسمته ببالج عن الوطن والحب يتلاشه
Sarah, Come back to Iraq when the conditions improve because I don’t want this beautiful picture you’ve drawn in your head about your home country and love to be destroyed.
كلامها عين العقل والفلم جميل. وماكو احد ميحب وطنه. لكن الظروف هي الي جبرته ان يترك وطنه ويعيش بالغربة. لان في العراق كثير من الظروف الي تجبر الشخص ان يترك وطنه ويتغرب ليعيش بأمان وسلام
Her words and the Film are very reasonable and legit…there is no one that doesn’t love their country of origin. However the circumstances are what forced us to leave the homeland and live in exile because in Iraq many of the conditions force the person to leave their motherland and fine refuge in a foreign place in order to live in safety and peace.
فهموني أهلي وآني صغيرة..أن الوطن أم…وكيف اترك أمي وهي مريضه ينهش بيه المرض..أبقى اعالجه واعيش بحضنها اﻻ ان يشاء ربي وتتعافى..والي طلع وهاجر معذور.. ناس تهددو وحاربوهم برزقهم..لكن الي عايش ومحد يمه ليش يعوف أمه..؟
When I was little, my parents taught me that your country of origin is like a mother…and how can I leave my mother when she is sick and being eroded by illness…I stay to treat her and live her chest and pray to god that she gets better….and the ones that left are excused…some were threatened and were attacked for their welfare. But those that lived in Iraq and were not attacked or threatened…why did they leave their mother?
حلو حلو طريقة نقله ﻷحساسه النفسي وصراحته مع ذاته… فلم قصير لكن بي معاني كبيرة ..
Beautiful the way she expressed her psychological emotion and her sense of frankness…a very short film with very big meanings.
الفيلم جميل جدا من حيث التصوير والاخراج ، و ساره كانت فنانة رائعة جسدت الفكرة وادت الرسالة التي تريد ابلاغها من خلال الفيلم حول الغربة والاغتراب ، مايطرحه الفيلم لا يمثل مشكلة ساره فقط ،، انا ايضا عراقي و اعيش في العراق و احمل ثقافتين ايضا ، ثقافة المجتمع العراقي و ثقافة حالمة تولدت في ذهني من خلال قراءتي مفادها ان المجتمعات الغربية تمثل حياة وردية واعدة بمزيد من الحرية . لذا انا ايضا اشعر بالاغتراب حتى وان كنت اعيش في بلدي ، لاني لا املك اي فرصة كي اطرح ارائي بخصوص موضوعات كالدين والسياسة و الحرية الفردية وحقوق المراة فهذه الامور خطوط حمراء غير مسموح بتناولها ومناقشتها في العراق لذا اجد نفسي مغتربا في بلدي ومجتمعي . المشكلة الاكبر هي ان ساره اذا عادت للعراق ربما ستعيش اغترابا اقسى وامر وستعاني كونها تحمل ثقافة غربية مكتسبة ،سارة تحلم بان تعود للعيش في عراق امن ، لكن العراق ليس امنا ، انه بلد تمزقه الصراعات ، وستفتقد ساره فسحة الحرية التي كانت تتمتع بها في اميركا ، في النهاية سارة تعاني ، والكثيرون يعانون مثل سارة ، سارة تحلم ونحن نحلم ، و لابد لنا ان نحلم لان الاحلام تبقى على الامل حيا في النفوس ، والحياة غير ممكنة بدون احلام
Very nice movie in terms of photography and directing, and Sarah was a wonderful artist embodied the idea and portrayed the message she wanted to communicate about alienation and estrangement, the issue presented in the film is not her issue alone, I am also an Iraqi and live in Iraq and carry two cultures….a culture of the Iraqi community and dreamy culture created in my mind through observation of the Western societies which represent a rosy and promising life with more freedom. So I also feel alienated even though I live in my country, because I do not have any opportunity to voice my opinions about topics like religion and politics and individual freedom and women’s rights….such things are red lines that cannot be discussed in Iraq, so I find myself as an expats in my own society and country. The bigger problem is that if Sarah returned to Iraq, she will probably live a much bitter alienation and will suffer because she carries a Western culture acquired over time. Sarah dreams of returning to live in a secure Iraq, but Iraq is not safe, it’s a country torn by conflict, and she will lose her basic freedom which she is enjoying in America…and at the end Sarah still suffers…and many suffer like Sarah, Sarah dreams and we dream, and we must be dream because dreams keep the hope alive in our soul for a better future, and life is not possible without dreams.
ربي يعودكم لدياركم ان شاء الله ينتصر العراق ويكون احلى واحسن من اي وقت وتتصافى القلوب
May God return you to your homes. God willing Iraq will triumph and become sweeter and better than ever and all of the hearts will become pure and unite regardless of differences.
الغربة احساس هذا ……كمامة لابس وانت وردة تشتم من شايف
You know when you smell a rose and you’re wearing a muzzle…that’s what it feels like to live in alienations.
وكفني وعرسي مولدي العراق
جنه بالعراق كل مرض مابينه بس وصلنه للغربه طلعت علينه الأمراض
Iraq is my birth and my wedding and my shroud. When we were in Iraq we were free of illnesses, and the moment we arrived to exile all kinds of illness began showing.
IARP celebrates the art program’s ten-year anniversary at the Susan Hensel Gallery!
Just kitty-corner from the famous Matt’s bar in South Minneapolis, the Susan Hensel Window Gallery will be presenting art works from IARP’s collection of paintings by Karbala and Najaf artists for the month of March.
Working artist, Susan Hensel, known for her practice in combining feminism, community and craft, has set up shop at the corner of 34th and Cedar. Since it’s opening in 2013, the gallery has hosted five to six exhibits each year bringing art, beauty and a sense of place to the community. It is our great honor to be a presenting here this year!
You will notice that the artworks on display are un-stretched and unframed. The decision to present them in this way was made in order to tell a story about the paintings that first came to IARP and began the Iraqi Art Project ten years ago.
“Since 2005 trained, professional artists have sent their work to IARP in hopes of gaining exposure in the United States and communicating what it means to be Iraqi. Over the years these artists have been shown in over fifty galleries and public spaces. IARP’s art program has grown and now includes a documentary video series, a bookmaking program and has developed several curated exhibits that have toured the country. As we approach the ten-year mark since the Iraqi Art Program began we believe that it is only appropriate to highlight some of these paintings and to take a look back upon our humble beginnings. Today we invite you to enjoy a sampling from our collection.”
See these works for yourself!
March 5th until April15th.
Susan Hensel Gallery. 3441 Cedar Avenue South 55407.
Thoughts from Board Member, Steve Clemens… On NOT Seeing American Sniper Movie
I have chosen not to see Clint Eastwood’s new “blockbuster” film, American Sniper, for several reasons: I don’t wish to add to the sales figures which continue to make it the #1 movie at the box office for 3 weeks running; I rarely spend $6-12 for a first-run movie, waiting until it comes to my local neighborhood theater for $2 senior rate; but, more importantly, what this movie symbolizes to my Iraqi friends.
When I traveled back to Iraq for the first time since going to Baghdad in December of 2002 as part of a Peace Team, the people I met in Najaf, Karbala, and Babil (Babylon) in November of 2012 were happy to greet an unarmed American – and they told us so. Unarmed, coming not to conquer nor correct but rather to connect and communicate face-to-face. Not looking through the scope of a rifle for potential targets but rather mingling with the masses in the souk, at the Shrines to their revered ancestors and leaders, and at the universities and grade schools. Looking there, instead of finding “insurgents” I found inquisitive people eager to engage me as a potential friend and partner.
Yes, I must admit I also encountered some bitterness and disgust at what some had felt was directly linked to the American invasion and the long military “occupation” which followed. Some of my Iraqi friends think many of the corrupt and ineffectual politicians now running their nation were put in place or funded by – or at least took advantage of the chaos created by – the American military intervention. Many of my Iraqi friends, while having no love lost for the departure of Saddam Hussein, see the present conflict arising between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims as being a result of a divide-and-conquer strategy by America and it’s principal ally, Israel.
So a U.S. movie which doesn’t bother to take the time to explain WHY a patriotic Iraqi might become an “insurgent” to fight against a foreign invader trying to put in place a government in his/her own nation – but instead has as its flawed “hero” someone whose autobiography calls all Iraqis “savages” … Well it isn’t hard to connect the dots to see how American Sniper will not help us work for the needed reconciliation between Iraqis and Americans.
Ironically, all the controversy surrounding this movie might serve as a good reminder to Americans that all too often wants to “move on” to the next event-of-the-day (or week or month) that those on the receiving end of the American Empire don’t have the luxury of moving on when infrastructure and relationships remain tattered and broken for most of our Iraqi friends.
Posted by Steve Clemens
You are invited to join us for a premiere event, a screening of 6 short films and discussion with the filmmakers.
Dessert and Coffee reception to follow.
When: Tues. December 2, 2014, 7:00 pm
Where: Macalester College, 1600 Grand Ave, St Paul, 55105 / Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center, Lower Level
Iraqi Voices is an ongoing collaborative mentorship program that gives Iraqis in Minnesota support and training to transform their stories into high-quality documentary video shorts. The films are written and directed by Iraqi-American participants and are photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher.
Hosted by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project in partnership with MacHOPE (Macalester Helping Open Peaceful Exchange).
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Event is free; donations welcomed.
More info… join our Facebook Event Page here.