In conjunction with Human Rights Watch, ROSEGALLERY presents MAKE ART NOT WALLS, an exhibition of paintings by a group of refugees and migrants from West Africa (Nigeria and Gambia) who are currently seeking asylum in Trevi, Italy.
In series of sequential, vividly-rendered tableaux, each artist tells their story of leaving their home country. Although each story is uniquely expressed, repeated themes display the commonality of the refugees’ experiences; groups of figures huddled shoulder-to-shoulder in overcapacity boats and trucks; sleeping on floors; hiding in trucks; saying goodbye. The arduous journeys endured have spanned countries and continents and a palpable uncertainty lingers, but as one artist states in a painted text, “A journey of a thousand steps begins with a single step.”
MAKE ART NOT WALLS features six artists: Raphael Benjamin, Foday Cessay, Felix Junior Omoigui, Michael Chinweoba Chinedu, Patrick Euria Chukwuemeka, Alex Ogbebor Enomah, Alex Johnson, and Ibrahima Cihana; and includes a selection of portraits all created in association with Make Art Not Walls, an art organization and open studio founded by Virginia Ryan in October 2016 with the subsequent help of Julia Perry and other volunteers. Men who have fled violence and scarcity in their home countries have been given materials, space and encouragement to share their personal perspectives in paint. Whilst awaiting documents, Make Art Not Walls helps refugees in the community of Trevi cope and heal through art as well as find community and purpose in their new surroundings. As the past decade has seen massive upheaval in many regions of the world, countless people fleeing state and interpersonal violence, poverty, and changing climates have been forced to leave their homes and move in search of a more stable life. Since 2014, more than 500,000 refugees have arrived in Italy, with the majority of migrants coming from sub-Saharan Africa. Each artist involved in Make Art Not Walls has been one of the many migrants caught in this global crisis.
A reception for the exhibition will be held on 24 APRIL 2018 from six until nine pm. Virginia Ryan, the founder of MAKE ART NOT WALLS, will join us for this special event for a conversation about her work with the refugees. Works by Virginia Ryan will also be on view. Additionally, the Golden Bridge Choir will grace us with a special performance during this evening's celebration. Proceeds from the sale of the artworks will go directly to the artists.