IARP Celebrates the Art Program’s Ten-Year Anniversary at the Susan Hensel Gallery!

Written on March 9, 2015, by


IARP celebrates the art programís ten-year anniversary at the Susan Hensel Gallery!

Just kitty-corner from the famous Mattís bar in South Minneapolis, the Susan Hensel Window Gallery will be presenting art works from IARPís 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 itís 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.

ďSince 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. IARPís 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.Ē

See these works for yourself!

March 5th until April15th.

Susan Hensel Gallery. 3441 Cedar Avenue South 55407.



Iraqi Voices / Recap and Touring Option!

Written on March 9, 2015, by

Our Iraqi Voices project has been a nine-month process of working with 8 local Iraqis and their families in the development of short documentaries in which they tell Minnesotans a part of their story. The dissolution of their home life as they knew it is one aspect of the “collateral damage” we can hear about in hopes of helping to shoulder their grief.

Six videos, which premiered last year at the Mizna film festival and Macalester College, are now available for viewing online. We are also pursuing the screenings of the films by other groups both inside and outside of Minnesota, providing an avenue for long-time Minnesotans to become better acquainted with our new Iraqi neighbors.

We enjoyed great publicity and positive response to Nathan Fisher’s Iraqi Voices project, however, the work is far from done. We would like to see these incredible short films shared as broadly as possible. The more awareness they raise, the more understanding we can encourage for our Iraqi friends. IARP is able to accommodate travel for the director, some filmmakers and other IARP representatives to speak about the films along with a screening. If you are interested in hosting or supporting a screening of Iraqi Voices in your community, please contact:†† Kathy McKay:† kathy@reconciliationproject.org
*photos above by Marisa McGinty

Thoughts from Board Member, Steve Clemens… On Not Seeing American Sniper Movie

Written on November 22, 2014, by





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

Iraqi Voices Premiere Event @ Macalester College

Written on November 19, 2014, by


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.



Quick Link to GIVE TO THE MAX

Written on November 12, 2014, by

Looking for IARP on Give to the Max Day?

Click the image above to link to our page…

Thank you for your support.


Transform to the Max… Our Legacy

Written on October 28, 2014, by

Help us strengthen the voices of Iraqi refugees and transform a legacy from violence to peace by†scheduling a donation†for Give to the Max Day, November 13.

For the past several months, IARP has collaborated with filmmaker Nathan Fisher on Iraqi Voices, a collaborative mentorship program that gives Iraqis in Minnesota support and training to produce documentary videos. The videos tell the Iraqis’ stories of coping with war and dislocation.

We need your help to tell these courageous stories and support all of our work for reconciliation. Please consider†scheduling a donation†for November 13, Give to the Max Day. Your donation will amplify the voices of Iraqi refugees and help broadcast their messages to Americans.

All donations will be matched up to $2500 by IARP’s Board of Directors and will support our other work for reconciliation: supporting Iraqi women and peacemakers, providing clean water to Iraqi schools, arts and cultural exhibitions, and professional exchanges between Iraqis and Americans.

Give to the Max Day†was created in 2009 to launch GiveMN, a collaborative venture led by Minnesota Community Foundation.†In just 24 hours, Give to the Max Day raises about $14 million for Minnesota-based nonprofits every year.

All donations on November 13, Give to the Max Day, will be matched up to $2750 by IARPís Board of Directors. Support IARP on Give to the Max Day†and receive the following (all of these rewards are optional):

Donation of $25 or more: Invitation to our VIP reception on December 2nd with Iraqi refugee filmmakers, to be held at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Donation of $50 or more: The above, plus a 12×18 poster of the films, signed by the Iraqi filmmakers.

Donation of $100 or more:† All of the above, plus you will receive a DVD of all of the Iraqi films (great for hosting a screening get-together with your friends or colleagues!).

Donation of $250 or more:All of the above, plus your name will be listed in the credits of the films produced by Iraqi refugees, IARP, and filmmaker Nathan Fisher.

Mark your calender for November 13th and join us in transforming our legacy from violence to reconciliation. Thank you for your support and partnership!
Click HERE to donate!

New series of Films by IARP and Local Iraqi Refugees to be shown at 9th Annual Twin Cities Arab Film Festival

Written on October 28, 2014, by

For the past 6 months, filmmaker Nathan Fisher and IARP have worked with Iraqi refugees and immigrants in Minnesota on a collaborative mentorship program to produce videos telling their stories. The guiding principle has been to allow the Iraqi filmmakers to tell their own stories and to focus on what they want to tell Americans.

A selection of the films will be featured at Mizna’s upcoming 9th Annual Twin Cities Arab Film Festival, to be held from November 6 to 9 at the St. Anthony Main Theater in Minneapolis. For more information about the festival, †click here.

IARP will host an official premier of all of the films as a screening, discussion and reception with the filmmakers on December 2 at 7:00 at Macalester College in St. Paul. Watch for more information to come soon.

The filmmaking project with Iraqi refugees and immigrants builds on IARP’s previous work with Iraqis in Minnesota. To view previous books and short films produced by Iraqis, IARP, filmmaker Nathan Fisher, the Veterans Book Project, and The Advocates for Human Rights,†click here.

Support for this project has been generously provided by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

IARP Welcomes Guests from Najaf in Minneapolis

Written on October 15, 2014, by

IARP is currently hosting a delegation of 5 visitors from Minneapolis’ Sister City of Najaf, Iraq. The guests are here to meet with colleagues in Minnesota and explore academic partnerships. Included in the delegation are Dr. Adel Al Jawfi, President of Al Farabi Institute in Najaf; Dr. Najm Askouri, Dean of Al Farabi Institute in Najaf and MPT Director; Dr. Mahdi Al Faraoon, Dean of the Dental College, University of Al Qadissiyah, Diwaniyah; Dr. Abdul Adheem Nassar, History Professor, University of Kufa, Najaf; and Mr. Qasim Al Ameri, Journalist.

See images below of their recent activities in Minneapolis:


Irene Gibson shares her story: A visit with Shayma and her family.

Written on October 14, 2014, by


*This story was written by Irene Gibson, who interned with IARP in the summer of 2013. The story exemplifies the personal ties and friendships between Americans and Iraqis that IARP supports.

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Shayma and her beautiful family, refugees from Iraq who recently arrived in Minnesota.

Shayma opened the door to the house even before I could knock. Greeting me with hugs and kisses, she eagerly introduced me to her husband, Mohammed, and oldest daughter, Ayat (16). Shayma proudly showed me around the house, and Doha (8) and Malik (6) showed me their letter books and homework. Malik brought me a small pumpkin, placed it in the fridge, and explained in detail exactly how she was going to cook it later. Eventually Shayma, Mohammad, and the oldest brother Hussein (17) sat with me to drink tea and discuss life in Minnesota.

When I tell people I visited a household of Iraqi refugees, most think of the differences: clothes, food, language. But this family wasnít foreign to me; the familiar chaos of family life and the feeling of a home were unmistakable. Shayma attempted the impossible task of wrangling her children. Mohammed talked about looking for a job as a mechanic. Hussein worried about learning a new language in school. Ayat watched over the little ones. Ali (8) wanted to impress everyone with new words he had learned. Malik bounced around crazily and loved the extra attention. This family shared the joys of daily life, the ordinary triumphs and trials found in every family.

And yet despite the commonalities between this family and my own, I also felt the difficulties of everyday life. Children struggling in school, parents working to understand supermarkets, and other small aspects of life I often take for granted. Upon my departure Shayma made me promise I would return Ė largely out of kindness and caring, but also, I sensed, out of a small desperation.

Shayma had mentioned earlier that being a refugee in the US was difficult, and I empathized. Living in a new country can often be lonely and overwhelming, and so I promised to return as soon as I could. We share a great deal already. It will be my pleasure to spend more time with this family and to nurture the ties of friendship and a sense of belonging in this new place they now call home.

-Irene Gibson


Iraqi refugees cope with horrors of war in Minnesota filmmaker’s new project

Written on September 14, 2014, by

For the past several months, filmmaker Nathan Fisher and IARP have worked with Iraqi refugees in Minnesota to help them produce videos telling their stories. The guiding principle has been to allow the Iraqis to tell their own stories and to focus on what they want to tell Americans.

The films will be featured at the upcoming Mizna Arab Film Festival in Minnesota. Watch for more information to come.

Excerpt from story, “Iraqi refugees cope with horrors of war in Minnesota filmmaker’s new project” by Nikki Tundel / MPR News (full story available here):