Islam Aly Project Reflections

1. In what ways can engaging with art inspire conversations, change perspectives, or increase empathy?

Art always thrives with freedom of expression. Multiple perspectives can be expressed spontaneously through art-making. While developing their artwork, collaborators explored many ways to experience the world around them, then expanded a style to reveal their stories. The books created during the project helped collaborators to say what cannot be told in words or what can be lost in translation, they shared their memories, hopes, fears, and aspirations in a universally accessible form. The discussions and stories shared during the workshops and exhibitions initiated conversations, artists, collaborators, and audience reflected on their personal experiences and shared it, this opened more interaction, and the result was a vibrant dialogue.

2. How might sharing personal experiences through the process of making art about migration, displacement or refuge increase our senses of belonging?

Creating art gave the participants the ability to communicate their stories beyond languages. People from different countries and backgrounds who had met at the project for the first time believed that belonging was a natural reaction of needing to know someone and the passion for sharing stories about life experiences and hopes for the future. Artists and collaborators made a crucial role as community builders on the project. They built connection possibilities using their imagination and creativity to reach the audience and nourish human connections.

3. How might historic stories of displacement impact understandings of our current moment?

Studying historical stories of displacement makes us question our present and reflect upon it. The historical narratives offered all project members with stories of determination, courage, wisdom, and—most important—purpose. Some of these historical narratives were also repeated within some of the collaborators journeys. All the journeys, attempts, and success inspired the collaborators. Such encounters teach us to move forward, acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them, and eventually build a healthier existence for everyone.

4. How do you imagine this project might change you?

The discussions, stories, and work shared during the workshops and exhibitions initiated ideas for my future projects. I want to continually reflect on my experiences through this project and expand on it. This project opened a lot of cooperation; the result was stimulating ideas. In addition, I started to consider approaches to make my work a vehicle for social change and explore ways to use culture and language in building bridges and connections.

Finally, another force that is shaping my future work are the visits to the Friend’s library, Peace Collection, archives, and different museums, I found artifacts that keep sparking new work. For example, I am working on a new book highlighting the Mediterranian immigrant’s crisis and the journeys refugees and migrants do crossing borders and seas.