Langley museum opens refugee exhibit with cultural celebration

On World Refugee Day June 20, community partners host exhibit and special tribute to Syrian people.

Strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees will be commemorated with an upcoming show at the Langley Centennial Museum.

But the museum’s arts and heritage curator, Kobi Christian, is taking it a step further. She’s coordinated a special event marking World Refugee Day on the same day as the exhibit opening.

To mark the day on June 20, the Langley Centennial Museum is partnering with the Immigrant Services Society of BC to hold a free, culturally celebratory event open to all, Christian explained.

The event will feature a gathering of communities, encompassing music, henna painting, dancing, and a variety of activities for children. It will also include music from Farooq Al-Sajee, accompanied by an oud. The oud is a popular instrument in Middle-Eastern music. It derives its name from the Arabic word for ‘wood,’ which refers to the strips of wood used to make the instrument’s rounded body. The event will also host a weaving demonstration and authentic Syrian cuisine.

The World Refugee Day event, in conjunction with the exhibition opening, will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., and registration is not required.

As for the exhibit, it was created in the midst of a conflict that has gripped the entire world. Called Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art, it is a travelling exhibition featuring the works of 19 Syrian artists.

“This powerful exhibition provides a unique window into the lives and minds of those affected by the devastating war through their art,” Christian said.

Paul Crawford, director and curator of the Penticton Art Gallery, along with Humam Alsalim, founding member of SYRIA-ART and curator of the Cyrrus Gallery in Damascus, began organizing the exhibition in 2015 and it has since travelled to Whitehorse, Calgary, and Vancouver Island.

A stop at the Langley Centennial Museum is the first of two stops in the Lower Mainland, for this exhibit.

“When the exhibition was planned in 2015, most of the artists featured were still living in Syria; many lived in Damascus, while a few had fled Syria altogether. The works all reference the devastating situation in Syria or are informed by it. This exhibition is meant to build a greater understanding of the Syrian people, their art, rich culture, history, and the turmoil their country is undergoing,” Christian explained.

The formal opening of Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art begins at 7 p.m. The exhibit will remain on display at the local museum through Sept. 3. The museum is located at 9135 King St. in Fort Langley.

 

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