Art exhibition at WSU aims to 'hate proof' the area

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WICHITA, Kan. Wednesday night at Wichita State University there will be a closing reception for a 2 month art exhibition called Building Bridges. It's purpose is to help break down harmful stereotypes surrounding refugees.

Iraqi refugees, now living in the United States, like Dr. Ahmed Fadaam, hope the pieces of art on display will change negative opinions people may have about refugees.

"They're trying to say, 'Look, we're just like you. We're normal people. We're trying to live our lives, raise our families and go to work, that's all,'" said Fadaam.

Fadaam was born and raised in Iraq. He lived his whole life in Baghdad until, in 2012, the war got so bad that he took his family and left for the United States.

He quickly found out many Americans know very little about the Middle East, beyond war.

"They don't know anything about the people there, the kind of life they had before these things happened," said Fadaam.

That's what he talked about Wednesday morning at Bethel College, and what he'll talk about Wednesday night at Wichita State.

"I hope that what I'm doing is changing their minds about us, the refugees and about people in the middle east," said Fadaam.

Jan Swartzendruber is the Coordinator for Wichita Common Humanity, the group that organized the art exhibition. She says the goal of the art is to hate proof our area, not just for Muslims, but against all forms of hate.

"We have things in common with them. We're not from such different parts of the planet that we can't comprehend their life," said Swartzendruber.

To do that, Swartzendruber and Fadaam say we have to look at individuals, and get rid of the idea that everyone from the middle east is a terrorist.

"We are society builders, we are not terrorists," said Fadaam.
All of the art on display at Wichita State and at the WSU Shiftplace Gallery in downtown Wichita is on sale.

Most of the money raised will directly benefit refugee artists.

To see more of the art work, we have a link on the side of this page.