Opening Reception: Friday, May 26th, 5:30-7:30pm
Former mayor of Rutland Chris Louras will speak at the event on the subject of the Rutland Syrian refugee resettlement efforts.
The Syrian Experience As Art is a traveling exhibition from Castleton University representing the work of ten Syrian artists individually responding with creativity to loss and destruction. Please join ArtisTree Gallery in welcoming these works of humanity and connection.
Video Crédit : khaled Youssef and Syria.Art
“The Syrian Experience as Art” is an exhibition representing the work of ten Syrian artists who seek to express their individual and varied responses to the devastation of their country. The impetus for the exhibit came when former Rutland mayor Chris Louras approached local gallerist and Professor Emeritus of Art at Castleton University Bill Ramage and asked how he might help humanize the many Syrian families who were slated to be resettled in Rutland and make a new home there.
Ramage, as it turned out, was the perfect man for the task as he had a resource to expose the citizens of Rutland—and anyone else who might be interested—to something that defines our humanity: art. Fortunately, Bill could couple his knowledge of art with another asset: resourcefulness. He reached out to Syrian artist, activist, organizer, and doctor Khaled Youssef to help him in satisfying the mayor’s request. This exhibit is the product of their collaborative efforts, gathering the work of twelve contemporary Syrian artists who each bring their own individual perspectives on what it is to be creative when the world they know, and in some cases have had to flee, is engulfed in devastation and destruction. The exhibition was extremely well-received by critics and the general public alike while on display at both the Castleton University Gallery and the Castleton Bank Gallery through the fall and winter.
Although the Rutland resettlement plan was halted after the first two Syrian families arrived following the inauguration of Donald Trump, the effort has been rekindled as more refugee families have been cleared for resettlement. Resettlement is, and will remain for the foreseeable future, a complicated issue. But with the support of public opinion it is likely that more of these families who are caught up in the horrors of conflict and torn from their homeland may find peace and consolation in welcoming neighbors. That welcome may be due in part to the efforts of those like Bill Ramage, Oliver Schemm, the Castleton University community, Chris Louras, and, of course, Khaled Youssef, as well as all the others who have put time and energy into positioning the work of these contemporary working artists in front of us so that we may see the joy, sadness, creativity, and humanity that forge the connection between us all.
This winter, Bill invited me to come by the Castleton Bank Gallery while the exhibit was on view. During my visit he invited me to host the work here at ArtisTree to extend the reach of exposure to this important and timely exhibit. Although many of these original works were executed digitally, there were several that were not, and those that weren’t had terrific difficulty being shipped from their region of origin. Simply put, it turned out that any packages from that region were, in practical terms, unable to be delivered to the United States. The result is a show where all images have had to be rendered digitally and the work is displayed in high-quality print form. With all of this in mind, I would like to express my appreciation for the privilege and opportunity to showcase these works along with my genuine hope that they are received with the same welcoming spirit that ideally all the current and future refugee families relocated to our area will be, with open hearts and open minds.
Learn more about syria.art here.