Sanctuary presents multi-form artworks and new resources that explore the dynamics of power between the state, community, and the individual that challenge our understanding of the global resettlement process.
The connection between friends that arouse feelings of peace are the foundations for building spaces of sanctuary, where one can exist and move uninhibited by fear. Sanctuary is a feeling of comfort and confidence to navigate space, and the stability needed to address daily needs and long-term goals and dreams. Sanctuary can be a personal sensation provoked or shattered in the home, on the block, in the neighborhood, or on a city, country, or even global scale.
How might listening to Syrians and Iraqis who have been resettled in Philadelphia help the City’s institutions, policy-makers, and residents live into our shared values as a Sanctuary City? Where are the lines of commonality of cause and effect between the global refugee crisis and issues of local urban displacement, mass incarceration, education, and community economic development? How can we make Philadelphia a true place of sanctuary for resettled individuals?
Informative and demanding, this exhibition showcases artworks that provoke and raise questions surrounding the process of resettlement to Philadelphia and the dynamics of power between the state, community, and the individual. Project collaborators who resettled from Syria and Iraq joined forces with commissioned book artists Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist to co-create collective and individual works that reflect both resiliency and challenges navigating Philadelphia to re-establish a quality of life they had at home. These works take the experiences of challenges faced with language, culture, translation, and access to create resources; assert personal dreams; and to help inform a more supportive process for new refugees. Challenge your understanding about what it means to resettle in a new country, where one’s identity has already been defined by negative media portrayals and stereotypes.