• Mohamad Hafez, UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, 2017. Credit nelsonimaging.com

  • Shanta Lee Gander, Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine, 2021

  • Mohamad Hafez, UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, 2017. Credit nelsonimaging.com

  • Shanta Lee Gander, Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine, 2021

 

Coming in Spring 2022

In the spring of 2022, the Fleming Museum of Art presents two new exhibitions:

 

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage

Mohamad Hafez, "UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage," 2017
Feb 8, 2022 – May 21, 2022

What comes to mind when you hear the word “refugee”? The dominant narrative is that of a victim, fleeing war and violence. But is that really where the story begins and ends?

Created during the summer of 2017, this multi-media installation is the work of Syrian-born, New Haven CT artist and architect Mohamad Hafez and Iraqi-born writer and speaker Ahmed Badr.

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For UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage Hafez sculpturally re-creates rooms, homes, buildings and landscapes that have suffered the ravages of war. Each is embedded with the voices and stories of real people—from Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Iraq and Sudan— who have escaped those same rooms and buildings to build a new life in America. Their stories are collected and curated by Badr, who is currently in graduate school at Harvard University and is himself an Iraqi refugee. Visitors experience short audio clips through headphones and can continue reading the stories online and on exhibit placards.

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage is the first project of its kind. Both collaborators have been personally impacted by the refugee experience, imbuing this exhibit with a deeper sense of connection and understanding.

What if, when you heard the word “refugee”, you thought of a neighbor or a co-worker?

 

Image: Mohamad Hafez, UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, 2017. Credit nelsonimaging.com

Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine

Shanta Lee Gander, "Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine," 2021
Feb 8, 2022 – May 21, 2022

Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine, an exhibition of Shanta Lee Gander’s photo series of the same name, has been six years in the making. The series started off as an initial idea and inquiry: Who or what is the Goddess when she is allowed to misbehave? Who is the Goddess when she is allowed to expand beyond bearer of life, nurturer, and all of the other boxes that we confine women to within our society?

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Dark Goddess is a mix of ethnography, cultural anthropology, an exploration of the sacred feminine, and a co-creation with each of the individuals featured. Shanta Lee writes that beginning to share the work through exhibition has helped her to sharpen her sense of the purpose of exhibitions in general. “Bringing Dark Goddess to others has been an ongoing inquiry and invitation outside of my comfort zone,” she shared.

Dark Goddess inspires us to reconsider what has been meant by “the male gaze,” a term coined in 1975 by Laura Mulvey and an insight shared in the book Ways of Seeing by John Berger. Does Dark Goddess challenge the underlying idea that all of the ways that we see are inherently male? 

“While amazing breakthroughs at the time, I think that these theories are binary and within our current context, we must think of the ways that the camera and the ways that those who have previously not been seen can engage with this technology in ways to cause powerful shifts.  As it relates to my work, I hope that it inspires more inquiry, questions about the other selves that are several layers beneath the surface of a society that categorizes and boxes,” writes the artist.

While Dark Goddess was previously shown at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, VT in fall 2021,  the exhibition has been curated specifically for the Fleming Museum with a twist.  In this latest iteration of the work, Shanta Lee’s Dark Goddess will enter into a conversation with the Fleming Museum’s collection and archives in ways that explore the continuum of the sacred feminine through time.

 

Image: Shanta Lee Gander, Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine, 2021