Saturday, December 22, 2018

What We Carried:
Fragments and Memories from Iraq and Syria

Kalamazoo Valley Museum 
  December 16, 2018 - April 15, 2019

Photographer Jim Lommasson created a project that showcases the significant personal items that Iraqi and Syrian refugees brought with them when they immigrated to the United States. Along with their mementos, these refugees share their stories, telling us what it really means to have to leave one's homeland forever. In their search for a better future for themselves and their families, these small objects, images, and memories represent what they left behind.

These photo/stories were created in December 2018 with local Syrian refugees now living in Kalamazoo Michigan. Photographer Jim Lommasson and Kalamazoo Valley Museum Assistant Manager for Material Culture Tammy Barnes met with local Syrian families to help share their stories about those few things from their homeland that they were able to carry with them to America. These new works are now included in the Arab American National Museum traveling exhibition now on view at the  Kalamazoo Valley Museum through April 15, 2019.

The more than 26 images and stories represents what brings all of us together: our love for family, friends, and home. All of the pieces in this exhibition will be presented in both English and Arabic.

The What We Carried: Fragments and Memories from Iraq and Syria traveling exhibition is a collaboration between photographer Jim Lommasson and the Arab American National Museum. The exhibition is funded by the Oregon Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Oregon Arts Commission, Ruth Ann Brown, and the Arab American National Museum.

Dress

Dress
This dress is from my mother. It is handmade. There are a lot of handicrafts in Syria. This is just a sample. Most of these colorful. It is twenty years old. – Amina Alsalam, Kalamazoo

Writing

Writing

Family ID

Family ID
This is the Family ID book in Syria. It’s very important. – Maha Hilal, Kalamazoo

Syrian Coins

Syrian Coins
25 Syrian pound 20 Syrian pound This currency in Syria. They were in my purse when we left Syria. My husband told me we will back in a month from Jordan, but now six years overseas. – Maha Hilal, Kalamazoo

Tea Kettle

Tea Kettle
This kettle is my favorite. I bought it from my country on 5/29/2008. We like tea, and when we left our home we took this kettle with us. Every moment I boil water to make some tea, I remember my country, Syria. It was with me until we arrived to USA. – Ola Hilal, Kalamazoo

Glass

Glass
I brought 6 tea glasses with me when I left Syria on 7/23/2013. Every time when we move, I tried to save these glasses by fabrics. Unfortunately, I lost 5 of them. This is the only one I could keep it to the moment when I got to USA on 8/31/2016. My husband always asks me to keep it, because he like to drink the tea by this glass. Thank you for the opportunity that makes me meet the people in this beautiful country. I met very nice people with amazing smiles. Thank you for the one who takes photos for these things. – Ola Hilal, Kalamazoo

Sweaters

Sweaters
I keep some of my clothes because they were made by my favorite person in the world, she is my mother. We left our country, Syria, hoping to go back soon. On the first day of the war we decided not to leave at all, but the fear was bigger and stronger than our decision. Yes, I left my homeland and left all my dream, memories, family, home, and my pet. I miss everything in Syria. – Ola Hilal, Kalamazoo

Mortar and Pestle

Mortar and Pestle

Ring

Ring
I brought this ring from Syria. It is my favorite. I remember my wonderful days. I am Syrian. I have this ring for ten years. I left Syria in 2013. I arrived at USA in 2016 – Amina Alsalam, Kalamazoo

Jalabiah

Jalabiah
My mother used to wear this Jalabiah. She gave it to me ten years ago, while I was pregnant. When I look at this Jalabiah now, I remember those days. – Maha Hilal, Kalamazoo

Maha Hilal and friends from Aleppo, Syria now living in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Maha Hilal and friends from Aleppo, Syria now living in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Sisters from Homs, Syria

Sisters from Homs, Syria