Hassan NOR (b. 1937) Untitled ("Vignettes of Life in Somalia") Color marker on paper; Collection of the artist

“I Am Somali”: Three Visual Artists from the Twin Cities

August 19, 2017 - May 27, 2018
Gallery 255
Free Exhibition

In Somalia, poetry has long been the preferred medium for artistic expression—in fact, the country is sometimes called “the land of bards.” This is in part because of Somalia’s long Islamic tradition, which discourages the visual depiction of people while embracing the power of the spoken word. Yet Somali artists have also turned to other media, including drawing, painting, photography, and video.

This exhibition celebrates the work of three Somali visual artists from the Twin Cities: Hassan Nor (81), Aziz Osman (69), and Ifrah Mansour (30). Nor and Osman were born in Somalia and grew up there, migrating to the United States in the 1990s after the outbreak of civil war at home. Their drawings and paintings look to the past, depicting life in Somalia before the war and in transit, on the way to their new country. Mansour, on the other hand, was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Minnesota. Her video addresses the cultural ignorance and stereotypes she encounters in her daily life. All three share stories of exile, memory, identity, pride, and resilience.

Read the poem I am Somali