Department of Art completes The Home Project and celebrates with cultural event
Connecticut artist and architect Mohamad Hafez will bring his exhibition “Unsettled Nostalgia” to Western Connecticut State University from Thursday, Feb. 10 through Sunday, March 6. The exhibition will take place in The Gallery of the Visual and Performing Arts Center at 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury and is sponsored by WCSU’s Department of Art.
Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Additionally, an artist reception will be held on Thursday, Feb. 10, from 6-8 p.m. Admission to both the reception and exhibit are free; contributions to support The Gallery are appreciated. Reservations to attend the reception are encouraged -- make a reservation at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. Face masks and social distancing protocol are required for both the exhibit and artist reception.
During the fall 2021 semester Hafez shared his deeply personal exploration of the concepts of home and displacement with WCSU and Danbury students as part of The Home Project, an art residency and collaborative art installation sponsored through a $13,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. As part of his residency, Hafez joined WCSU faculty members Associate Professor of Art and Kathwari Honors Program Director Sabrina Marques and Dr. Christine Hegel-Cantarella, associate professor of Anthropology and associate chair of the Social Sciences Department, in mentoring students in the fall semester course “There’s No Place Like Home.”
The course was designed in conjunction with the residency and exhibition to inspire cross-cultural dialogue and creativity to communicate concepts and experiences of home. The WCSU student participants incorporated found objects and other materials to create three-dimensional assemblages representing their personal visions, and the work will be installed as a collaborative piece and shown in the gallery with Hafez’s work.
The Home Project brings to WCSU an artist whose artistic vision and career have deep roots in the multi-cultural experience of his life’s journey from the Middle East to the United States. Born in 1984 in Damascus, Hafez spent his childhood years in Saudi Arabia and pursued electrical engineering studies in Syria before moving to the United States to study art and architecture at Northern Illinois University and earning his Bachelor of Architecture degree at Iowa State University. Over the past decade, he has created a unique body of multi-media artistic work that seeks to tap into the crossroads of cultural heritages within him.
Hafez has served as interpreter-in-residence at the Oriental Institute and as artist-in-residence at the Harris School of Public Policy, both at the University of Chicago. He maintains a studio in New Haven and has been recognized as a Silliman College Fellow at Yale University and a 2018 recipient of the Arts Hero Award from the State of Connecticut Office of the Arts. Hafez was featured in “A Broken House,” directed by Jimmy Goldblum and featured by New Yorker Documentary (https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-documentary/a-syrian-artist-remakes-the-home-he-cannot-visit).
In celebration of the completion of The Home Project with WCSU, the event “No Place Like Home: Exploring the sights sounds and tastes of the Middle East with artist Mohamad Hafez and guests”will take place on Thursday, March 3, from 6-8 p.m. Held in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall at the WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center, this event invites the audience to spend an evening learning about Mohamad Hafez, his art and the Middle Eastern culture through history, film, music, storytelling and cuisine. Offering a variety of perspectives, the presenters will educate the audience about their cultural heritage by sharing personal stories, music, art and food to deepen understanding and appreciation for Arabic culture. Joined by other guests, they will focus on the traditions of the Middle East, illuminating the region’s beauty and diversity, encouraging connection and empathy, and fostering dialogue and understanding.
This event is funded in part by a grant from the CT Humanities Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and WCSU organizations the Office of Diversity and Equity, Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Kathwari Honors Program and is free to the public. Tickets are required for this event and reservations must be made in advance at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. There is limited ticket availability due to Covid-19 restrictions.