MIGRATION EXPERIENCE — REFLECTIONS OF MAINE IMMIGRANT ARTISTS

UMVA Gallery at CTN (Portland Media Center)

April 2-27, 2018

In April, the creative voices and talents of more than a dozen immigrant artists living in greater Portland will be exhibited at the Union of Maine Visual Artists Gallery. Seventeen artists collaborated with curators Kifah Abdulla (poet and painter from Iraq), Titi de Baccarat (sculptor and painter from Gabon) and John Ripton (photographer, writer and historian) to create work that expresses their experience as Maine immigrant artists. Each artist – painter, sculptor, photographer, poet and performance artist – will exhibit work that they have completed since arriving in Maine.

Greater Portland is home to thousands of immigrants whose life stories demonstrate the will to overcome lack of opportunity and education, political repression, violence and poverty. Some of the artists in the exhibit are fortunate to have escaped such violations of human rights and other artists have not. All of them have nevertheless distinguished themselves as artists and in many other endeavors. Their collective stories are part of the story of the United States. They inspire us in ways our great grandparents’ and their grandparents’ lives do.

As with earlier immigrants, the newer immigrants are building their lives here and revitalizing Greater Portland, its economy and its culture. The artists will share their desires and dreams as well as their reflections on how they arrived in Maine and the challenges they continue to face. The exhibition of their work will speak directly to the world in which we live, without the spin of manufactured news.

In a time when differences among peoples are being exploited at the highest levels of government, this creative project strives to cross the borders and walls separating brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. The exhibited work speaks to our common humanity. Guided tours of the exhibit for students and teachers of Portland area schools, colleges and universities are also planned.

The Opening with Artists’ Reception is on First Friday’s Art Walk, April 6th (5-8 p.m.) at the UMVA Gallery in the Portland Media Center at 516 Congress Street in Portland.  (Click for e-invitation)
Poets and musicians will perform. It will be a celebration of Greater Portland’s immigrant communities, an exciting opportunity to reaffirm the enduring struggle to share this world and this city and state with each other. The public is enthusiastically welcome.

UMVA Gallery Hours:

Monday 12-5 / Tuesday-Thursday 10-5 / Friday & Sunday 1-4

Jean Medard Zulu, unnamed 2, Mixed Media, 20X30
Makumbundo Francisco, Baobab, Oil on Canvas, 24X48, 2015

MY PEOPLE DYING

(Song by AFRiCAN DUNDADA)

my people dying
I’m feeling like a product of war
here I stand while they laugh
cause my people left poor
my childhood memories
had me begging for more
got away from the war
but now I’m worst than before
came here to represent for
my Africans all around the world
gotta stay on my grind though
like poverty right at my door
for all the people out in this world
that got no home
cause they families poor
for all the people
that will never know
what it feels like to be cared for
pray to god
and let it flow
it ain’t all about that money bro
now let us go
look at me
I represent like Rambo
how many people here gotta die
how many mothers here gotta cry
how much more do we sacrifice
before we get to see paradise

 It is quiet in Darfur

by Ekhlas Ahmad

It’s quiet in Darfur. It’s not the silence of peace, but it’s the silence of death.
My homes that once carried histories of generations are now burned ashes on the
ground waiting for the wind to blow them to their final destination.
My mothers that were once Leaders of their communities are now used as war
weapons.
My sisters that once had chances to be future leaders are now afraid to see the sun.
So I speak for them.
I speak for the thousand mothers who have been speaking forever but there is no-one
to listen.
I speak for the thousand girls who want to speak but don’t have a voice.
I speak for the thousand children of Darfur because they can only speak in silence.
I speak so they can be heard.
Because I feel their pain.
When I was a little girl I used to cry
but only in silence
never showing my parents my tears
not even my siblings, or peers
because they told us if you showed people your tears, it meant you were afraid
it meant you were weak, it meant you were powerless
Yes I was young, but I knew I wasn’t weak, and I knew I wasn’t powerless
I had and still have a weapon
A Voice
A voice that once it’s heard, demands attention
A voice that doesn’t only speak, but repeats
So I will speak so they can be heard.

Titi de Baccarat

Titi de Baccarat is a painter, sculptor, clothing designer, jeweler, and writer. Dedicated to justice in a hostile political context, he was forced to flee his country, Gabon, with only the wealth of his artistic ability. He has lived in Portland since February 2015, where he works through his African identity and artistic expertise to contribute to the culture of the city. He believes that art rehabilitates love, bringing together people of all countries, backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities.

Kifah Abdulla

Kifah Abdulla is an artist, poet, writer, teacher and activist, born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. The real  beginning for Abdulla as an artist started after he returned from eight years as a prisoner of war in Iran from1982-1991. Art became his main professional career. He worked to express his experience of time spent in prison, a theme that is still present in his work. In his current work started in Portland, he uses abstract Arabic letters as an essential element in his work. He is developing his style in the vast space of contemporary art in America. Abdulla has exhibited in Iraq, Jordan, Holland, and Portland, where he lives and works.. He published his first book of poetry in 2016.

List of Participating Artists*
Kifah Abdulla (Iraq) Poet & Painter
Titi De Baccarat (Gabon) Sculptor & Poet
Anna Mikuskova (Czech Republic) Photographer
Afshin Mahmoudi (Iran) Photographer & Musician
Ekhlas Ismail Ahmad (Darfur, Sudan) Poet
African Dundada (South Sudan) Musician & Composer
Mei Selvage (China) Painter
Burcin Kirik (Turkey) Painter
Akad Hamed (Iraq) Painter
Sofia Aldinio (Argentina) Photographer
Ebenezer Akakpo (Ghana) Jeweler/Designer
Christian Muhunde (Rwanda) Painter
Makumbundo Franciso (Congo) Painter
Edward Mbikiayi (DRC) Painter
Rabee Kiwan (Lebanon) Painter
Yelena Fiske (Russia) Painter
Sahro Abrahim (Somalia) Designer
Damir Porobic (Former Yugoslavia) Interdisciplinary Artist
Jean Medard Zulu (Congo) Painter
Aymen Khaleel (Iraq) Painter

Performing Artists at April 6th OPENING/Artists’ Reception
Ekhlas Ismail Ahmad (Darfur, Sudan) Poet
Kifah Abdulla (Iraq) Poet
AFRiCAN DUNDADA (South Sudan) Rap Musician/Composer
Jawad Alfatlawi (Iraq) Musician
Mei Selvage (China) Traditional Chinese Ink Block Brushwork
Yves Karubu (Burundi) Drummers/Dancers

Community Resource Leaders Represented
Zoe Sahloul (Lebanon) Activist/Organizer N.E. Arab American Organization
Bereket Bairu (Eritrea) Emergency Teacher/Tutor

UMVA Portland Chapter – Minutes

S.Smith, BotanyofSacrifice

November UMVA Portland Minutes
Scroll down for December minutes directly after

(Annotated version for the Journal)—11/20/17

Website:
Janice made a UMVA website report. She discussed the challenge with having a gatekeeper structure and the difficulty keeping something current and accurate with that system. She discussed that there were multiple sites for UMVA and the Maine Arts Journal and the newsletter, etc and that it was very confusing to try to track down who does what. Matt Stacey is still the gatekeeper for the main site and Cathy Weinberg is doing the journal site and facebook updates. The group discussed other options for a new page, or something that would be easier to access month to month. It was agreed this is becoming one of the most important next steps for our chapter to increase exposure, information and memberships. (see note at bottom).

Current CTN Open Hours   (Gallery is always open during these times)

Monday—12pm – 5pm
Tuesday—10am – 5pm
Wednesday—12pm – 5pm
Thursday—10am – 5pm
Friday—Closed
Saturday—Closed
Sunday—Closed

Remodel Update
Leslie reported that the donated carpet for the back room is here, but they are just waiting for laborers to install. There are also plans to repaint the front of the building and get new signage up with the change of CTN to the new name. The UMVA banner was praised as looking really good from the street and even had passersby taking photos of it.

It was discussed that at the December meeting we will do an overview of 2017 and also a visioning discussion for our hopes and dreams for UMVA in 2018 and beyond.

Update: William uploaded all Curator & Press Documents here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1XsUTtKKxb9Cefa6AM_-0eoOr9cQb9SxL?usp=sharing

 

We have a full UMVA Gallery planned for 2018!!!

umvaportland chapter,schedule for shows

Jan– Gregg Harper/ Mixed Media
Feb– Susan Smith/ sculpture- mixed media
March– Berrang/ Witte
April – Migration Experience/ UMVA Journal/ John Ripton
May– Mark Barnette/ photography
June–  Art & Abstract Truth/ Jim Kelly
July– UMVA Open Show  (needs curator)
Aug– Matt Demers /painting
Sept–  The Eclectic Vision/ Addison Woolley
Oct– The Chair Considered / Janice Moore
Nov–  UMVA Open Show  (needs curator)
Dec– Holiday Sale

Janice reminds the group that the show she is curating in October is for Chair-themed artwork and she wanted UMVA members to consider making chair-themed work to prepare for that show.

Note:
Who does what:
—All inquiries and listings should still be sent to:  umvalistings@gmail.com <http://umvalistings@gmail.com>
—There is is still a gatekeeper/tech head for the UMVA main site. He updates members’ images, and will help with tech problems on the site, but no longer formats listings for this site.  matthew_stacey@ymail.com
 —There is a person currently formatting and uploading listings for the Maine Arts Journal— the current location of the online News/Events and UMVA Newsletter, the former UMVA Blog page.

S.Smith, Bundles

 

UMVA Portland Meeting Notes
December 2017

—Report Back by John R: Holiday Sale
—Idea presented: to create a calendar for UMVA events for print and online.
—Email from Janice was read regarding the website update and trying to make progress on having a UMVA portland site that we can manage.
—Gregg H handed out bookmarks for his show in January . He reported all the place he has put the show info and the newspapers that were running info about the show. He met with Bob Keyes/ good media timing. Gregg will be sitting for the show every Friday through Sunday for the entire month of the show.
— John R reported on the April show. Focus on immigrants. 12 artists currently in the works. Performances etc/ Building community. Titi DeBaccarrat/ Kifa Abdullah are involved in organizing the show with John. The show info will be in 5 languages and will display mixed media pieces also.
—Jess M discussed our mailing list and how to maximize our membership. Jess asked some questions about our press materials and the process we are using to market shows. A discussion followed about best practices.
—Gregg reported on the curator file for each curator. Jackie’s e-mail should be added for contact for all curators to be able to access the membership lists and mailing lists.

—Holiday Show 2018/ Next Year: Idea for a “50 for $50 idea.” Each artist makes a small piece for the show and could submit addition works. Have a donation aspect of the show to raise money for a cause.  Jess proposed having a holiday show with 3 rooms each with a different price point.
—Can we increase sales in the gallery?  Discussion -Make it attractive to come to the openings/-Bartending help for the opening.  Gallery Hours / consistent

UMVA Visioning for 2018 and beyond:
-website  (weebly.com)
-classes from members to share their skills/ raise money/ make money
-each member should tell people and try to help grow the umva membership this year
-calendar
-UMVA marketing materials
-Another Draw-A-Thon?  Political activist art. ARRT. Bring our war dollars home.
-Kids events classes. Provide to the community
-Model drawing classes?
-Set gallery intentions – How do decide how we want to give out shows/ 1 person? 2 person shows? member shows? Which is the priority?
-What is the purpose of the gallery?  Can we bring in outside artists and curators? Bring in out of state shows?
-William invited the UMVA members to Hidden Ladder Art Nights that happen each Sunday night to collaborate with artists in the city. Contact him if interested.
-Funding: maybe be able to award artists grants down the road.

Thanks for a great 2017 and we discussed highlights from the last year.