‘Syria, Then and Now’: Refugee Stories on Display

Work of Lebanese artist Ginane Makki Bacho (Photo by Tarek Haddad via the Brooklyn Museum)

Syria, Then and Now: Stories from Refugees a Century Apart” exhibits ceramics from the 13th century alongside modern sculptures to tell the experiences of two generations of refugees – the Circassians who fled to Syria in the early 1900s and the Syrians today who flee to other countries. Julianne McShane covered the show for Brooklyn Paper.

“The exhibit is about the changing stories of refugees in Syria,” said Aysin Yoltar, who works in museum’s Islamic Art division. “Once Syria could be a shelter to refugees; now people from Syria are leaving as refugees.”

The show features several black-and-turquoise 13th-century ceramics discovered by a group of Russians who fled their country’s oppressive government at the turn of the 20th century and settled in the Syrian city of Raqqa — recently the capital of the Islamic State. While building new homes, the refugees uncovered the medieval vases, which were later sold to the Brooklyn Museum.

The elegant ceramics contrast with the work of the three contemporary artists, each of whom used scrap metal and other discarded materials to convey the suffering facing Syrian refugees as they flee their homeland.

A conversation featuring the three artists will take place Oct. 18 at the museum. Read more about their artwork – which feature burned matches and scrap metal – and details on the Thursday event and exhibit at Brooklyn Paper.

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