Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home
on view March 5 – June 7, 2019

opening reception Tuesday, March 5, 6 to 8 p.m.
Dublin Arts Council, 7125 Riverside Dr., Dublin, Ohio
Reception and exhibition are free

Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home is a group exhibition by New Americans who delve into concepts of identity through their artwork. The exhibition, which is curated by Columbus visual ethnographer Tariq Tarey, will be on view in the Dublin Arts Council (DAC) gallery, 7125 Riverside Dr., in Dublin from March 5 through June 7, 2019.

The exhibition opens with a public reception for the visual artists and a West African Griot performance on Tuesday, March 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. Additional performances featuring Iraqi, Somali and Nepalese cultural traditions will take place at Dublin Arts Council on April 9 and May 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. The opening reception, the exhibition and performances are free of charge.

Header image: Preparing Flour (detail) by Denis Kasaza. Acrylic on paper, 24″x16″

Guest Curator

Tariq Tarey

Tariq Tarey is currently the Director of Refugee Social Services at Jewish Family Services in Columbus, Ohio. He serves on Ohio’s New African Immigrants Commission and the Franklin County Board of Commissioner’s New American Advisory Council.

Tariq is also a documentary photographer, skilled in both still photography and filmmaking.

In 2006, Tariq’s photographic exhibit, Forlorn in Ohio, which documented the plight of Somali refugees, appeared at the Kiaca Gallery and Wright State University.

Tariq’s exhibition “Bhutanese-Nepali Neighbors” was on display at the Ohio History Connection throughout 2017 and was nominated for the Community Arts Partnership Award by the Greater Columbus Arts Council. In 2018 “Bhutanese-Nepali Neighbors” exhibit won the Ohio Museums Associations best of show.

He currently has exhibitions showing at the Rutherford B. Hayes Museum in Freemont, Ohio and at Otterbein University.  Several of his images now belong to the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum of Art.

Tariq directed “Women, War and Resettlement: Nasro’s Journey,” which was aired on WOSU Public Television in 2012.  Moreover, Tariq’s film, “The Darien Gap,” was shown in the 2nd United States Conference on African Immigrant and Refugee Health.

Among Tariq’s honors are the South Side Settlement House’s Arts Freedom Award in 2006 and the Ohio Art Council’s Individual Artist Award in 2008 and in that same year Tariq won the Greater Columbus Art Council’s Individual Artist Award.

Currently, Tariq is working on a book project documenting representative refugee populations in Central Ohio.

Participating Artists

Bilal Alabbood

Threatened by the Suni – Shia divide, Bilal Alabbood fled his native Iraq with his family at the age of nine. After six months awaiting visas in Syria, they arrived in Egypt in 2006. Seeking a future of safety and security for the family, away from war, the ultimate goal was to come to the United States.

Bilal attended elementary through high school in Egypt. His artistic path began with a mentor in Egypt who introduced Bilal to documentary photography. During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, which led to the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Bilal was taught to use his camera as a weapon to express opinion. He took his camera everywhere, publishing videos online and on social media. At age 18, Bilal was hired by the Iraqi news channel Al Hadath TV.

With Bilal’s uncle in Dublin, Ohio, USA, serving as sponsor, Bilal arrived in America on July 29, 2013. He enrolled at Columbus State Community College to take English as Second Language (ESL) courses an obtained a job as a warehouse worker for Abercrombie & Fitch. During his two years with the company, he was promoted to a supervisor position where he was responsible for 35 staff members.

Bilal earned an Associate of Arts & Sciences from Columbus State Community College in 2017. He is currently enrolled at The Ohio State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Industrial Engineering.

He has been employed as a Technical Expert with Apple since 2016, and along with active online and social media accounts, provides commercial photography and video services through Bilal Production. Bilal is now a U.S. citizen.

His newest project, a photography and videography series, From Baghdad to Dublin, will be featured in the exhibition Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home at Dublin Arts Council in spring of 2019.

Artist’s Statement

From Baghdad to Dublin

This is a good time to show the journey – from what we used to be to what we are now. Through From Baghdad to Dublin I explore feelings: first safety and security, then friendships and success.

My photography and videography series tells the stories of individuals and Iraqi culture in Dublin, Ohio, USA. Here, people can be something. This is a helpful culture, where we can express thoughts, feelings and ideas. If we have a goal, no one will stop us.

Here I have the freedom to use my artwork to tell the impressive stories of people I know: people who became doctors and business owners, and people who built their own selves from zero to 100 percent.

In this land of opportunity no one cares where you came from, they care about effects.

Instagram: @bilalalabbood

Facebook: Bilal Photography

Faduma Hasan

Faduma Hasan was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1999. Hasan and her family moved to Syria in 1999 to escape the civil war in Somalia, and immigrated to the United States in early 2002. Her father chose to settle the family in Columbus, Ohio because of the opportunities he saw in the area for employment and education. According to Hasan, “Ohio embodied the opportunity [her parents] sought from America.”

Hasan became the first in her family to graduate high school, earning her diploma from Westerville Central High School in 2017. She is currently a second-year student at The Ohio State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Affairs with a specialization in Education Policy and a minor in International Studies. In addition to her studies, Hasan currently works as a freelance photographer, capturing senior photos, bridal showers and other personal celebrations and events. She also enjoys videography, and finds editing videos to tell a story and capture memories extremely fulfilling.

Hasan became interested in photography at a young age. Her father and uncle took photos of the family every year, creating and updating a family collection. Her photography focuses primarily on issues surrounding identity. Hasan’s portrait photography was featured in the Urur Dhex-Dhexaad Ah: Community in Between exhibition at Dublin Arts Council in 2016.

Hasan’s current photography project, Queens and Crowns, will be featured in the exhibition Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home at Dublin Arts Council in spring of 2019.

Artist’s Statement

Queens and Crowns

Growing up, my dad and uncle always took photos and videos of us and would update the collection every year. My dad would conduct mock interviews, asking us questions like what we wanted to be when we grew up. Though my answer always changed, to my core, I knew that I wanted to help people.

I capture photos and use them to tell stories, specifically photos that surround identity. The photography I have done thus far has focused on aspects of my own identity. In the future, I plan on expanding into the exploration of what identity means for different people and how identity is used to maneuver, especially in the United States.

My artwork portrays people that are present but erased; out of sight, out of mind. Because so many people that look like me are only visible sometimes (Halima Aden, model or Ilhan Omar, congresswoman) I think it is important for everyone, especially young girls that are Somali-American, to have female role models that represent them. I believe that every woman is a queen, and women who wear hijab simply happen to have their crowns more visible than most.

I would like visitors to the Opening Doors exhibition to know that there’s more to people beyond what is on the outside; be it skin color, hair style or even a hijab. People have more to offer than what is immediately visible.

Hugo Milambo Kabundji

Hugo Milambo Kabundji was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1982. Kabundji arrived in the United States on May 6, 2018 after being selected as a winner of the United States Green Card Lottery, to which he had applied in hopes of expanding his artistic opportunities in the United States. Kabundji chose to settle in Columbus, Ohio because many of his family and friends already lived in the area.

Kabundji began drawing at a very early age, which prompted his parents to enroll him in art school. Kanundji earned a degree in plastic arts and formal training in painting and sculpture. He often spends his time listening to music while painting or drawing. Kabudndji also currently works full-time at a local JCPenney distribution center.

Kabundji’s wooden sculptures and paintings will be featured in the exhibition Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home at Dublin Arts Council in spring of 2019.

Artist’s Statement

I am an immigrant artist in the United States, continuously looking for ways to express myself through my passion for the arts.

My artwork represents the reality of my country; its culture, daily life, riches, wars, violence, famine and immigration issues.

Denis Kasaza

Born in 1968 in Bukavu, a city in the state of Sud Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denis Kasaza was forced to flee his home for safety in December 2002. Kasaza passed through Tanzania for his first six months as a refugee before settling in Maratane, a refugee camp outside of Nampula, Mozambique. Kasaza lived in Maratane for the next eight years.

Although his formal educational background was in electronics, during his time at Maratane Kasaza had the opportunity to learn painting from visiting teachers and made the decision to change careers. Kasaza was taught by artists from Portugal and Italy, and eventually began to teach painting to others at the camp. His education continued in Nampula with other local artists.

In 2010, Kasaza moved to Cape Town, South Africa and began exhibiting his artwork. During this time, he applied to the refugee resettlement program through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and after three years, his resettlement paperwork was approved.

Kasaza arrived in Columbus, Ohio in March 2017, with the goal of beginning a new life in America and to continue working as an artist. Kasaza currently works to support his art, but hopes to soon return to being a full-time artist as he was during his time in Africa.

His paintings will be featured in the exhibition Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home at Dublin Arts Council in spring of 2019.

Artist’s Statement

Currently, the focus of my work is to show traditional life in the part of Africa where I grew up: landscapes, wildlife and life in a village. I primarily use ink and paints, though I also collage and embroider pieces to give depth.

I want to show the real life of Africa, to allow viewers to glimpse and get an idea of the reality of my home. I am learning and exploring American traditions and plan to incorporate these into my artwork in the future.

Instagram: @kasazart

Facebook: Kasazart

Samba Mbaye

Samba Mbaye was born in Mauritania, a country in West Africa, in 1965. Mbaye came to the United States in 1998 in search of better opportunities for work and for his art. Mbaye performs traditional West African music with a group of artists, including his wife, who serves as the main singer for the performances.

Mbaye is a griot; a West African historian, storyteller, poet and musician. The griots are carriers of oral tradition, and are typically seen as leaders in their communities. Griots preserve ancient stories and traditions through song, and many now perform internationally to spread information about and awareness of their respective cultures.

Mbaye and his group will perform at the opening reception of the Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home exhibition at Dublin Arts Council on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. The exhibition will be on view in the Dublin Arts Council gallery through June 7.

Fatah Muse

Fatah Muse was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1982. In 1999, when he was 17 years old, Muse and his family were selected in the United States Green Card Lottery and immigrated to the US, settling in Columbus, Ohio. Muse attended West High School in Columbus and subsequently earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Franklin University in 2008.

Muse became interested in photography during his senior year at Franklin University. He had always had a secret admiration for photography and felt inspired when looking at newspapers or book covers. He wondered how those shots where staged, how lighting was used and how the images were composed. In 2008, Muse met local Somali photographers Tariq Tarey and Abdi Roble, and found the inspiration and guidance he needed to start his own journey with photography. Muse bough his first DSLR camera, a Sony Alpha 300, and has been a studio partner with Tarey for the past eight years.

Muse currently works full-time as a software developer and dedicates his evenings and weekends to his artistic pursuits, which consist of mainly photography and videography. His other hobbies include travel, playing pool and ping-pong and working out.

Muse’s photography will be featured in the exhibition Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home at Dublin Arts Council in spring of 2019.

Artist’s Statement

I love coming up with ideas and bringing them to life through photography; to tell a story or convey a message using the magic of photography, taking the possibilities to the next level. I love taking pictures of people, photographing nature and exploring product photography.

My artwork portrays the importance and the power of youth getting involved to end violence in their communities. Some of the youth that have participated in this project have lost friends to gun violence. They have made a commitment to take action and create awareness about this issue, and to do what they can about gun violence in the community.

The red bandana in my photos symbolizes grievance. The inspiration came from Mogadishu, Somalia. In 2017 there was a horrible explosion that killed a lot of innocent people, and nearly the whole city came together wearing red bandanas; even those who didn’t share the same ideas. When we were exploring the idea of the exhibit, we decided to include the bandanas, as they have become a known anti-violence symbol in our community.

Instagram: @socdaalfoto

Facebook: Socdaal Photography – Fatah Muse

Arjun Rasaily

Born in Bhutan in 1981, Arjun Rasaily was forced to flee to Nepal due to political unrest. Around age 12, Rasaily began to study classical music from both Nepal and India. Rasaily discovered that Indian and Nepali music were very similar, and began translating songs from Hindi to Nepali. Rasaily’s songs gained popularity, and in 1998 he recorded his first song in-studio. He has since recorded several studio albums, and his music is also available on YouTube.

Rasaily moved to Columbus in 2002, and gained UNHCR Refugee Status in 2009.  In Columbus, Rasaily, who holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, began a career in social work. His work focuses primarily on suicide prevention within the Nepali community.  In addition to social work, Rasaily teaches traditional Nepali music to students in his community.

Rasaily hopes to spread Nepali music to other communities, and believes that music is vitally important to community and culture. He hopes that by teaching his songs to children in his community, they will remember their Nepali heritage and feel connected to their culture and their history.

Rasaily will perform on April 9 as part of the the Opening Doors: Calling Central Ohio Home exhibition at Dublin Arts Council. The exhibition will be on view in the Dublin Arts Council gallery through June 7.