HOME: Conversations on Displacement and the Arts

Repeats every day until Sat Sep 14 2019 . Also includes Sat Nov 16 2019, Sat Feb 15 2020, Sat Apr 18 2020.
September 14, 2019 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm
November 16, 2019 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm
February 15, 2020 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm
April 18, 2020 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Family Free Day: Home


As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, Lynden is participating in Welcoming Week (September 13-22, 2019), a program of Welcoming America that enlists organizations around the country to welcome new immigrants and refugees into their new communities, by launching a series of Conversations on Displacement and the Arts. These conversations among artists, scholars, and community activists will continue the work begun with our first annual refugee celebration, HOME this past June, and will focus attention on these communities as we prepare for the second HOME celebration, scheduled for June 20, 2020. As with similar conversations at Lynden, we will look at displacement broadly, as both an internal and an external phenomenon: from the experiences of refugees and immigrants coming to the United States to those of Indigenous, enslaved, and interned populations within this country. In the spirit of Welcoming Week, and Lynden’s commitment to inclusivity, all of these conversations are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.


September 14, 2019: Participants in the first panel, moderated by artist-in-residence Kim Khaira, include Hasina Begum Ashraf Mia, David Najib Kasir, Angela Kingsawan, and Open Kitchen (Alyx Christensen and Rudy Medina). Scroll down for more information on the participants.

November 16, 2019: Participants in the second panel, moderated by artist-in-residence Kim Khaira, include Sheila Badwan, Kai Gardner-Mishlove, Kevin J. Miyazaki, and Evelyn Patricia Terry. Click here to listen to a recording of the panel.

February 15, 2020: Participants in the third panel, moderated by artist-in-residence Kim Khaira, include Ashraf Albakir, Ras 'Ammar Nsoroma, Sumeya Osman, and Nirmal Raja. Click here to listen to a recording of this panel.

April 18, 2020: Participants in the fourth panel, moderated by artist-in-residence Kim Khaira, include Erick Ledesma, May June Paw, Paul Vang, and Della Wells. Click here to watch a recording of this panel.

About the Participants

Hasina Begum Ashraf Mia is a Rohingya refugee community leader from Myanmar/Malaysia. Prior to resettling to Milwaukee, Hasina was the head and supervisor of a refugee kindergarten learning center under the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign. Through leading this work, Hasina played a pivotal role in developing strategy and approaches to case management, community health clinics, resettlement issues, and arrest and detention faced by her community. In Milwaukee, Hasina continues to lead, organize, and support community initiatives and events, including advising community advocates on refugee issues, presenting Rohingya/Burmese/Malaysian cuisine for Tables Across Borders, organizing and participating in community fashion shows and celebrations, co-coordinating Lynden's HOME event for World Refugee Week, and impacting and involving community members in the arts. Through her life's work, and inspired by the active Lynden community, Hasina's interests and involvement include batiking with textile artist Arianne King Comer and community worker/artist Kim Khaira, modelling for Rosemary Ollison's Beyond Fashion show, and building the refugee and immigrant community through HOME.

David Najib Kasir is a Milwaukee-based artist. His mother is Syrian and his father was Iraqi. He lived in Syria as a child and returned for visits after relocating to the United States. His current work deals with the refugee crisis and the Syrian civil war. https://davidnajibkasir.com/home.html

Kim M Khaira is a community worker and artist based in Milwaukee from Penang, Malaysia, whose current work draws on the sense of home, creating home, and of making “sense” of the literal and abstract. She is exploring these themes in Pulang Balik: I Am Going Home Too her residency project at Lynden.

Angela Kingsawan is an Indigenous person of Raramuri, Tigua, and Mexica descent. She was born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee and uses her unique perspective as an urban Native person to teach modern herbalism infused with Native tradition to impact and empower communities of color. By providing decolonized education, seed exchanges, and growing culturally significant plants in an urban setting, Angela strives to help community members remember their cultural ways of being. She currently works as a garden manager at a local Milwaukee non-profit in the neighborhood she grew up in and has been an herbalist in her community for over 20 years. https://www.yenepaherbals.com/

Open Kitchen is organized by Rudy Medina and Alyx Christensen. The project engages critical conversations on food, society and culture, local and at-large. By organizing food-related socials, seasonal residencies, counter-disciplinary collaborations, and satellite installations, conversations are collected, collaged, and open to the public.

Sheila Badwan was born in Raleigh, NC and raised in Greenville, NC. She graduated in 2005 from East Carolina University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. She has worked in the healthcare industry in many specialties doing medical billing and coding for the last 10 years. Badwan is the cofounder of Open Arms, an interfaith group of women in Milwaukee. She is currently the lead for the Hanan RRG Milwaukee chapter and works heavily with refugees and immigrant populations in the Milwaukee community. She is married and a devoted mom to two kids, one of whom is partially deaf and has epilepsy. Badwan believes this is important in building bridges among various communities. She has worked in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and Oshkosh to establish relationships with various cultures, communities, and religions on refugee/immigrant issues.

Kai Gardner Mishlove has a BA in Political Science from Boston University with graduate studies in Public Health from the University of Illinois. She is active in many communities and has served on the boards of Hillel Milwaukee, the JCRC of Milwaukee, the Friendship Circle, NCJW Milwaukee, SEA Literacy Project, Hands and Voices, and various disability rights groups. She is a graduate of the Selah JOC Cohort 15 Leadership Program of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership For Justice and the Milwaukee Outreach Director for Edot: the Midwest Jewish Diversity Project. She has a long history of advocating for various marginalized and vulnerable communities. Kai is employed in the healthcare industry improving healthcare delivery and patient health outcomes. She was one of the organizers of Refugee Women's Zumba and other refugee health and wellness projects at the Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic. She volunteers and develops projects extensively with refugee, immigrant, and differently abled populations. Kai’s latest project organized with friends is “Tables Across Borders,” a collaborative global pop-up dining experience highlighting the cuisines of refugee communities resettled in the Milwaukee area. Kai is a very proud stepmother and mother of four adult children. One of her children is Deaf. Kai’s hobbies include bikes and motorcycles, gardening, music, and art. Kai feels very strongly about the importance of building global bridges between cultures and the promotion of inclusive, diverse communities.

Kevin J. Miyazaki is an artist and photographer living in Milwaukee. His artwork often addresses issues of family history, migration and memory. Of particular interest is the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War ll, which uprooted his father’s family and sent them from Tacoma, Washington to camps in California and Wyoming. Miyazaki’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, the Haggerty Museum of Art and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. A current exhibition of his photography and sculpture is on view November 5-January 24 at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha.

Milwaukee-based artist Evelyn Patricia Terry, began her art quest in the late 1960s as a junior at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She is the founder of the Terry McCormick Contemporary Fine and Folk Art Gallery, located in her home at 2522 N. 18th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a full-time professional artist, Terry has explored diverse themes including race, religion, and relationships. Her MFA degree in printmaking assisted her with amassing editions of images as well as many monoprints and monotypes that she now repurposes into artists’ books, installations, and mixed media drawings focusing on “being American.” In the mid 1980s, her focus expanded to include health, after reading a book explaining the impact of “enzymes from raw food” as an important benefit in gaining and maintaining radiant health. This she knows benefits all humanity. Her world travels and constant news reports provide her with an understanding of the misuse of power and the perpetuation of prejudice as tools that negatively impact high percentages of people--despite their heritage, country of origins, religious beliefs, or economic status. Seeking a good place to live physically and emotionally, Terry discovered peace in her home--through her art career, her health practices, and by continually developing friendships with productive people from global backgrounds.

Ashraf Albakir is an accountant and refugee from Syria. When he resettled to Sheboygan in 2017, he could not continue his work as an accountant because of language and certification barriers. He currently works in upholstery and furniture making, and he plans to go back to school for business management in hopes of better utilizing and applying the skills that refugee communities bring with them when they resettle in the United States. As an avid community supporter, he contributes to the work of Hanan Refugee Relief with Sheila Badwan and Salvatorian Warehouse by organizing donations and supplies to orphans and refugees in Syria and Jordan. His perspective of empowerment in refugee work and the global refugee issue due to war tragedies stems from being a refugee himself and seeing these tragedies up close.

Ras 'Ammar Nsoroma is a muralist, portraitist, and mixed media painter. He is a 2019 Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellow in the established artist category. His work centers around the spiritual, cultural, and political consciousness of the African Diaspora, and he is currently exploring the world of the Orisha, African deities of the pantheon of the Yoruba people. Nsoroma has worked as an artist for 35 years. He studied at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sumeya Osman is a Somali refugee who lived in Uganda as an urban refugee for six years. Resettling to the United States, she's lived in Milwaukee for three years. As a community advocate and interpreter, her experience and skills range from working as a community health worker at Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic with Kai Mishlove, to supporting initiatives at the local level with Public Allies, and advocating for refugee rights. Her ongoing passion for grassroots engagement and community health has led her to pursue training as a doula and midwife within diverse communities, as well as encouraging talents in refugee youth. Sumeya is an active member of the HOME steering committee, and is busily engaged with the planning of this annual, community-directed refugee event at Lynden. She is the event's co-MC, alongside Rohingya refugee Hasina Begum.

Nirmal Raja is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Milwaukee. Conceptually driven and thematic, her work straddles the personal and the political and is a response to lived experiences that are distilled and strengthened by research in the studio and through reading. She approaches her practice as a process of sifting and communicating sensations and ideas with varied materials and processes. She examines notions of memory, identity, place and belonging. Performative collaborations with other artists and the larger community have recently become part of her practice. Occasionally, she curates exhibitions and organizes and facilitates situations that articulate moments of connection and empathy. Raja holds a BA in English literature, a BFA in painting and drawing from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has participated in solo and group shows in the Midwest, nationally, and internationally. Her work has been included in both public and private collections. She is a mentor for Milwaukee Artists Resource Network’s mentorship program.

Erick “Ck” Ledesma is an interdisciplinary visual artist from San Juan, Puerto Rico who explores themes of identity by incorporating and integrating influences of Afro-Caribbean culture. Ledesma received a BFA in Painting with a minor in Art History from the Peck School of the Arts - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Ck works primarily with mixed media using acrylic and spray paint to develop vibrant color palettes. He also creates performance-based pieces and facilitates community engagement arts projects. Exhibitions include “31 Emerge” at the Walker Point Center for the Arts, “30x30x30” at Var Gallery, and “2 Productions” at Reginald Baylor Studios. Ledesma served as the inaugural Artist in Residence for Cesar Chavez Drive and for the Milwaukee Public Library, Mitchell Street branch. He is on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Area Resource Network (MARN) and the founder of Cosecha Creative Space--a culture connectivity initiative.

May June Paw is a second-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, majoring in Elementary Education. Her active involvement in the Karen refugee community led her to volunteer at SEA Literacy, at her local church, and with the Karen American Association of Milwaukee. Leading up to HOME and World Refugee Day 2020, and for Lynden’s 10th Annual Winter Carnival, May June organized a Karen-Thai table serving savory snacks and desserts while engaging with the public on the Karen diaspora in Milwaukee and forced displacement faced by Karen refugees.

Paul Vang serves as the Civic Engagement Director at HAWA, the Hmong American Women’s Association. He is a former science educator and is passionate about helping to build power within the Southeast Asian community by engaging in conversations with people at their doors, hosting educational events that are open to the public, and educating elected officials on the Southeast Asian population here in Milwaukee.

Della Wells is a self-taught artist who began drawing and painting in earnest at the age of 42. Her creative process stems primarily from her personal experiences embellished through the art of storytelling into visual work. Wells's work has been written about and has appeared in several publications including Betty-Carol Sellen's and Cynthia J. Johanson’s book, Self Taught, Outsider and Folk Art, A Guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources, 2000/2016 ed. and one of her images appears in a children's book The Classic Treasury of Childhood Wonders: Favorite Adventures, Stories, Poems and Songs For Making Lasting Memories, by Susan Magsamen. In 2011, Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Fly, an award-winning play written by Y. York and inspired by Wells’s life, was premiered by Milwaukee’s First Stage Children 's Theatre. In 2010, the play was selected to be read at the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C., for its New Visions, New Voices Festival. Wells illustrated a children's book, The Electric Train, by Nanci Mortimer.

Wells has exhibited in galleries, museums, and art festivals all over the United States, Italy and British Columbia. Venues include: Hickory Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Appleton Art Center, Huntsville Museum of Art, 5 Point Art Gallery & Studios, Loyola Museum of Art, multiple University of Wisconsin campuses, Hurn Museum of Contemporary Folk Art, Alverno College, Costal Museum, Mark Woolley Gallery, Clayton Gallery, Huntsville Museum of Art, Cedarburg Art Museum, David Barnett Gallery, Museum of Science & Industry , Magic City Art Festival, Outsiders & Others Uptown Gallery, Peltz Gallery, Susan Woodson Gallery, Barrister’s Gallery, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wright Museum of Art, and the Outsider Art Fair in New York. Her dolls, cards and collages are currently sold at The Smithsonian National African Museum of History and Culture and Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago. She has been a featured artist at the Kentuck Festival of Arts, the largest art festival featuring folk, self-taught, and outsider art in the United States. Her work is in over 100 private, corporate, and museum collections including Saint Kate Hotel, Hurn Museum of Contemporary Folk Art, Northwestern Mutual Insurance, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Wright Museum of Art. Wells is represented by the Portrait Society Gallery.

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