Unpacked: Refugee Baggage at Yale Law…


Refugee art at Yale Law School

I had the joy yesterday of viewing the exhibit UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage in the Yale Law Library with Syrian-born and New Haven based artist Mohamad Hafez who created this powerful installation with Iraqi-born writer and speaker Ahmed Badr (who attends Wesleyan University and is himself an Iraqi refugee). The installation seeks to humanize the word “refugee.” Having spent considerable time with Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Beirut (and now New Haven), I was especially moved by the exhibit and impressed with its artistry, attention to detail, and important message. It reminded me of the scars of war that never really go away, but also the possibility for healing and the miracle of resilience in the face of tremendous suffering.


Suitcase memories of home (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

Mohamad kindly walked me through the dioramas he created in suitcases that re-create the lives that refugees in New Haven left behind in Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Iraq and Sudan before they arrived in America to begin a new life. According to the website: “These stories are told by kind, genuine and impressive people that society sometimes labels as marginal and insignificant. By giving these voices a tangible platform, Badr and Hafez invite the spectator to reexamine the word ‘refugee’ and view it through a multidimensional lens. These are not merely stories of violence and war. These are stories of triumph and resilience, featuring architects, lawyers, journalists, professors – living and breathing proof of the power of the human spirit.” The exhibit closes on April 5th, so make sure to see it before it’s gone. You can check out more of Mohamad’s unique art at this link–I would buy it all if I could!


With artist Mohamad Hafez

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