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Books as Art Objects by Refugee Youth at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum

Photo of a Refugee Youth Project student displays her book
Photo of a Refugee Youth Project student displays her book
Reginald F. Lewis Museum

Interweaving Traditions: Bookbinding Across Cultures is a unique book arts exhibition celebrating the cultures of refugee youth. Students of the Refugee Youth Project (RYP) created books as art objects through a yearlong creative process of bookbinding. This exhibition will be on view at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture from April 23-June 1, 2014. An opening reception will be held on April 24, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8p.m. All are invited to attend.

Interweaving Traditions conveys the challenges faced by refugee youth and offers an extraordinary and artistic look at their lives. Over the course of two years, local book artists facilitated bookbinding workshops that offered an opportunity for refugee youth to develop storytelling techniques and bookbinding skills related to their cultural traditions. Student book artists are from Bhutan, Nepal, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the Congo. Victoria Timpo, a 2014 MFA candidate in Curatorial Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art, curated this exhibition as her master's thesis project.

"Interweaving Traditions aims to raise awareness of the growing refugee population in Baltimore and offer a platform for RYP youth," says Timpo, "Through these workshops, I wanted to encourage refugee students to have an outlet to express themselves and be proud of where they came from."

The Refugee Youth Project (RYP) is one of the varied refugee programs of Baltimore City Community College. Students in the workshops arrived in Maryland after fleeing from Bhutan, Nepal, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the Congo. Audiences gain insight into the sensitive experience of a refugee through their books as art objects.

Book artists include: Arlington-based educator Sushmita Mazumdar; MICA alumni Ingrid Schindall; and Baltimore-based bookbinders; Martha Edgerton; and Suzanne Coley. Completed books have previously exhibited at the Creative Alliance and the Enoch Pratt Central library. Additional books will be on display at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum will also host related programs, which Timpo says, "offer an opportunity for cross cultural understanding and appreciation about the refugee population in Baltimore."

The Thursday, April 24, 2014 opening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. will feature cultural performances by the Refugee Youth Project students and Sankofa Dance Theater.

On Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 1 p.m., there will be a short film screening of The Paradise that Wasn't by Congolese artist Evodie Ngoy. The film documents Ngoy's experience attending Baltimore public school as a refugee. Ngoy will join a panel of community leaders, including Kursten Pickup, Refugee Youth Project Coordinator, and Joe Augustyniak, Communications Specialist for Maryland Office for Refugee and Asylees, to discuss the social, economic, and political experience of refugee youth in Baltimore. Click here to register.

Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m For more details, contact Laura Rodini at or by phone at 202-669-3065.

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