From the Field

Museum as Sanctuary at the Tucson Museum of Art

July 18, 2013

Arizona is home to over 60,000 resettled refugees from all over the world, and that number continues to grow. The Tucson Museum of Art is currently showing an exhibition of works created by some of these refugees as part of its innovative Museum as Sanctuary program. Now in its third year, MAS is a collaboration between TMA and The Hopi Foundation’s Owl & Panther Project, which works with refugee families in the Tucson area who have been impacted by traumatic dislocation. This program allows participants to channel their experiences through art-making and in-gallery activities. Refugees from Iraq, Bhutan, Nepal, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Congo have taken part in the program.

Museum as Sanctuary: Giving Voice to Tucson's Refugees features a compilation of contemporary artwork created by MAS participants, and one collaborative piece created with the members from the Hopi and Tohono O’odham communities. All of the wall labels were also written by artists the artists themselves to ensure that the voices of the refugees were heard in the exhibition.

 “Our hope is that this project will promote individual and communal healing through the arts and foster greater connections for the refugees to their new home in southern Arizona,” said Morgan Wells, TMA’s Curator of Education. “We want to bring greater social awareness and cultural sensitivity to our community.”

Museum as Sanctuary: Giving Voice to Tucson’s Refugees is on view through September 15, 2013. More information on Museum as Sanctuary is available at the Tucson Museum of Art website.


Image: Sarah, 2013 (C) The Hopi Foundation's Owl & Panther Project. Photograph taken by older youth refugee participant.