Fairfield University 2008 Larrabee award-winner Kathryn Sorrentino presents A Tribute to Rwanda - An art exhibition that transcends the genocide of a people - Opening October 22


"Daniel's faith in God has aided him in a healing process that allows him to forgive and continually gives him strength to help other people." Kathryn Sorrentino

By way of a Fairfield University core class in the Philosophy of Education, artist and aspiring teacher Kathryn Sorrentino saw an opportunity to help heal an orphaned teenage victim of the horrors he experienced by Rwandan genocide. The double major in Studio Art and English who is a continuing education student at University College, created "A Tribute to Rwanda," an exhibition that demonstrates the soaring spirit of a savaged people through art, photography and craft. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, opens with a reception at the Lukacs Gallery on Wednesday, Oct. 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. For the reception, contributing photojournalist Gary Howe has provided Rwandan coffee and Beth Loria will prepare traditional Rwandan food. The exhibition runs through Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Sorrentino met Daniel Ndamwizeyes when he was a senior at Bassick High School in Bridgeport and with the shock and horror of Daniel's personal history fixed in her mind, she sought to document Daniel's life through her own art and the work of other artists who have lived in Rwanda and are familiar with the art and culture of Africa as a whole. The exhibition was conceived with the dual goal of providing a record of Daniel's life that will encourage him to catalog his memories for future use and of raising public awareness of the continuing world presence of genocide.

In 1994, at the age of five, Daniel's father, a Hutu, was murdered for refusing to kill Daniel's mother, a Tutsi, and their children; after a futile effort to flee, the boy saw his mother murdered; he and his sisters scattered in terror and he was left alone. Living as an orphan for eight years, he was unaware that two of the sisters he became separated from were killed and his other sister was imprisoned. He was eventually reunited with his two remaining sisters in the United States.

Moved by the remarkable spirit of forgiveness that emanates from this fractured Rwandan family, Sorrentino reminds the public, that "Collectively we can make a difference. The mass murder of 800,000 people in a mere 100 days cannot be forgotten. My hope is that this exhibition will be presented in other venues and schools to heighten the awareness of these issues and expose the culture of the Rwandan people to Americans."

Sorrentino worked collaboratively with Daniel on all phases of the exhibition to maintain the accuracy of the timeline documenting major events in Daniel's life and to ensure that the boy's own voice is heard among the exhibited art.

Contributing to the exhibition are artists: Malene Barnett, a New York City textile designer whose work translates African artwork and symbols into fabrics and home furnishings; photojournalist Howe who has contributed seven powerful images, Frank Hannafey, S.J., professor of religious studies at Fairfield University, whose painting of a carved wooden African mask is on exhibit. In addition, the exhibition includes crafts, sculpture, oil paintings and other original representative artwork.

Sorrentino is a winner of the 2008 Mary Louise Larrabee Award given through Fairfield University's Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Sorrentino's exhibition is the final stage of her project proposal; in this exhibition, the artist raises important questions and explores opportunities to deepen our understanding of the genocide in Rwanda.

The Lukacs Gallery is located on the lower level of Loyola Hall at Fairfield University. Gallery hours are Monday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-12 noon. The gallery is closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For further information, please contact Kathryn Sorrentino at (203) 372-7996.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 16, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 95