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“Her Story Is: performances and presentations” : U.S. & Iraqi women artist collaboration

June 24, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Her Story Is : performances and presentations. An evening of theater, poetry, visual art, and music; artistic results from a yearlong collaboration involving U.S. and Iraqi women artists. Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel, the Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences, the Odysseus Project, the Center for Arabic Culture, and partners in Iraq. Free and open to all. For more information: www.fortpointtheatrechannel.org/her-story-is.

The Her Story Is (HSI) project presents multi-disciplinary art work emerging from a collaborative exploration among women artists from Iraq and the Boston area. HSI celebrates common ground among the artists in both countries, while acknowledging profound cultural and political differences. The presentations cap several years of programming, research, and exhibition between artists and scholars from Iraq and the Boston area.

The artists in the project have worked together for the past year, communicating electronically and meeting at a five-day workshop in December, 2017. At that time, three of the Iraqi artists met with four Boston-area artists in Dubai, a location accessible to both groups. Joining them were three translators who were full participants in the workshop, including Amir Al-Azraki, an Iraqi-Canadian scholar, playwright, and cofounder of HSI.

Further background information:

In Dubai last December, the artists offered intensive sessions for one another on their disciplines, while also telling deeply personal and moving stories about their lives and work. All were women whose lives had been shaped in different ways by war. For example, Nadia Sekran, a translator and a researcher, defined herself as “an Iraqi woman and survivor of three wars”:  the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2003 American invasion of Iraq.  Jennifer Jean, a poet from Peabody, MA, spoke about being the daughter of a Vietnam veteran. The project participants laughed, cried, and began mapping out ways in which they would work together once the workshop was over.

The HSI program in June will include 10 presentations, including new works by Iraqi poet Hana Ahmed and Boston poet Jennifer Jean and a staged reading of a new play co-written by Amy Merrill in Boston and Elham Nasser Al-Zabeedy in Iraq. Also featured will be videos from the workshop by Boston filmmaker Lillie Paquette, art from Iraq by Maryam Mohsen, Thaira Al Mayahi, and Elham Al-Zabeedy, and commentaries by several projects participants.

An exhibit at Atlantic Wharf, June 7-22, will include art by several of the Iraqi women in the project, including the remarkable work of Al-Zabeedy, a visual artist, activist, and president of the Lotus Women’s Cultural League in Iraq, one of the HSI cosponsors. Anne Loyer, a Boston-based artist committed to visual storytelling and a coordinator of HSI, is organizing and curating the exhibit.

The presentations in Boston and Somerville parallel public events in Iraq this spring and coming up later this year. And the women expect to continue their work together, overcoming barriers separating their nations.

What energizes the women to keep going with the collaboration — emails, Skype calls, and meetings — is their commitment to the use of art to promote dialogue and understanding between people who have been separated by geography and war. The Dubai workshop and the events in the Boston-area aim to achieve what the governments of Iraq and the US have not yet accomplished: mutual respect and understanding.

Her Story Is represents the current phase in an ongoing collaboration among Fort Point Theatre Channel, UMass Boston’s Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences, the University of Basra, the Center for Arabic Culture, the Odysseus Project, playwright Amir Al Azraki, and the Lotus Women’s Cultural League in Iraq.


June 24, 2018
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Fort Point Theatre Channel


Arts at the Armory
191 Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA United States
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