Rick Shaefer: The Refugee Trilogy

Piece from Rick Shaefer: The Refugee Trilogy

Rick Shaefer: The Refugee Trilogy

Thomas J. Walsh Gallery

September 8 - October 22, 2016

The Fairfield University Art Museum is pleased to present the inaugural exhibition of a monumental new series by Connecticut artist Rick Shaefer created in response to the ongoing refugee crisis convulsing the globe. This three-piece suite is comprised of Land Crossing, dealing with the migration across foreign lands; Water Crossing, addressing the perilous journeys of refugees who take to the open seas; and Border Crossing, spotlighting the hostilities refugees face in seeking safe haven far from a violence-torn homeland. The trilogy employs the artistic lexicon of old master painting (specifically incorporating heroic figurative elements from works by Rubens and Géricault) to explore this contemporary crisis in a language both familiar and iconic. Such historical allusions underscore the tenacious persistence of this epic human tragedy throughout time, past and present.

In addition to the three triptychs, each executed in charcoal on vellum, the exhibition will include a number of Shaefer's preparatory drawings for the series.

Programs planned in conjunction with this exhibition include an opening night lecture, "Rubens and the Art of Appropriation," by Stijn Alsteens, Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; a panel discussion, "The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Over Land and Sea," a panel discussion with Dr. Silvia Marsans-Sakly, Assistant Professor of History, Islamic World, Julie Whittaker '12, Founder, Amal Foundation (dedicated to supporting refugees and their host communities), Wendy Christian, Associate Vice President, Marketing and Communication, Save the Children USA, and artist Rick Shaefer; a lecture by Dr. Lisa Brody, Yale University, "Dura-Europos: Exploring and Preserving Cultural Heritage in Roman Syria"; and a film screening of Salam Neighbor followed by a conversation with the film's director, Chris Temple. An Artists Talk with Rick Shaefer and innovative South African playwright Brett Bailey, whose new work in progress, "The Raft," is also a response to the current refugee crisis and, like Shaefer's pictorial series, finds inspiration in Géricault's haunting Raft of the Medusa, completes the program. All events are free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested.

Audio clips were created by refugee and relocated youth and their teachers, who found inspiration in Shaefer's work. The participating students attended the Ubuntu Academy, a summer literacy lab hosted by the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University that brings teachers and students together to write. Listen to the audio clips.