“My ultimate goal is to have my artwork try — at least try — to bring people together again.”
Syrian-born, Connecticut-based artist Mohamad Hafez has put on display a series of dioramas that seek to humanise the word ‘refugee’.
Called UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, the series depicts suitcases containing miniature recreations of war-torn urban settings. Using found objects and scrap metal, Hafez was able to build little burned cars, crumbling houses, and forgotten belongings – representing places and things abandoned by real refugees.
The pieces are accompanied by audio recordings taken by Iraqi refugee and Wesleyan University student Admed Badr. Each clip tells a heartbreaking story of pain and loss by those who suffered from wars in the Middle East and Africa.
According to Hafez, who constructed the dioramas through several months, he hopes that the thought-provoking series will get people to relate to refugees – and maybe even change the opinions of those against the displaced.
“By telling people’s stories through art, we realized that we could captivate and hook people into these stories,” said Hafez.
Currently, there are 10 suitcases representing the 10 families who have found refuge in the United States. He plans to make 50 suitcases total – one suitcase and one interview in every state.
“My ultimate goal is to have my artwork try — at least try — to bring people together again,” Hafez said. “That’s a goal that I would honor and cherish for the rest of my life.”
You can learn more about UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage here.