Erik Ruin is a commissioned book artist on this project. He is a Michigan-raised, Philadelphia-based printmaker, shadow puppeteer, paper-cut artist, etc., who has been lauded by the New York Times for his “spellbinding cut-paper animations.” His work oscillates between the poles of apocalyptic anxieties and utopian yearnings, with an emphasis on empathy, transcendence and obsessive detail. He frequently works collaboratively with musicians, theater performers, other artists and activist campaigns. He is a founding member of the international Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, and co-author of the book Paths Toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (with Cindy Milstein, PM Press, 2012).
Fadaa is a collaborator on this project. In her own words: “An American woman of Iraqi origin, since my childhood I have an art talent, but I haven’t had a chance to develop it. My studies were far from art, where I studied to be a pharmacy technician when I came to America. Luckily I had the opportunity to work in art in Philadelphia with Penn Museum and Radio Silence with Mural Arts Project. I have the talents to work with antiques and integrate colors to give a different scenery.”
Islam Aly is a commissioned book artist on this project. He is currently an assistant professor of Art Education in the Department of Art at the University of Northern Iowa. At Helwan University, Egypt he received a BA and an MA in Art Education; afterward, he graduated from the University of Iowa, with an MFA in Book Arts and a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning with a concentration in Art Education. His books explore the possibilities of historical bindings in contemporary book art practice. He has combined book traditions with digital technologies. His work is created at the junction between culture, technology, and aesthetics
Maureen Cummins is a commissioned book artist on this project. She is a native New Yorker who has cranked presses from California to the Eastern Arctic and produced over 30 limited edition book projects. Her “re-created” books are based on subject matter as diverse as slave narratives, the Salem witch trials, turn of the century gay love letters, and records from McLean Hospital, the oldest mental hospital in the United States. She is represented in over one hundred permanent public collections and has received over a dozen grants and funded residencies, including the prestigious Pollock-Krasner award. She currently lives in Bearsville, NY.
Mohamed is a collaborator on this project. He was born in a city south of Iraq in 1953. He attended high school in Baghdad and continued on to a technical institute in 1974, but did not work in the field he studied. Instead he worked a variety of jobs freelance, one of them as a book seller on Almutanabi Street, known as the Street of Culture in Baghdad. He enjoys reading and drawing. Mohamed, his wife, and children came to the United States as refugees in 2013 due to violence and confusion of the situation in Iraq. He is now living in the City of Philadelphia and has since returned to his favorite hobby of drawing, citing his involvement in the Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project as the impetus: “I wish I can draw some of the history from this great country and to draw some important interesting places to visit.”