Israeli Exhibit on Refugees Opens in UN

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Israel's Ambassador Danon: "As a people who spent 2,000 years living in exile, we are no strangers to the world of refugees"

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As Jews, we cannot allow ourselves to be indifferent to the plight of refugees today.

A special exhibition by Israeli artist Orna Ben-Ami entitled "Entire Life in a Package" opened today at the United Nations in partnership with The Israel Project (http://www.ornabenami.com/ironanddrawings.html). 
 
The exhibit, which will remain on display until March 10th, includes welded iron sculptures combined with photographs of refugees in various situations and focuses on the plight of refugees from around the world.  Diplomats from around the world and senior UN officials, including Mr. Arjun Jain, Senior Policy Advisor at the UNHCR, took part in a ceremony marking the opening of the exhibit.

"We are so proud to host this exhibition. As a people who spent 2,000 years living in exile, we are no strangers to the world of refugees," said Ambassador Danon.  "We experienced firsthand the lack of security while in exile, while never losing hope for a better future. As Jews, we cannot allow ourselves to be indifferent to the plight of refugees today," the Ambassador continued.

In her exhibit, the artist hopes to represent the identity and sense of belonging of refugees.  The iron she uses expresses the will to hold on to a strong identity that refugees possess, while at the same time their hopes to render these experiences into meaningful lasting monuments.  By then cutting and welding the iron, Ben Ami seeks to 'soften' this hardest of substances, while at the same time further strengthening the message of her works.
 
“I feel that as an Israeli artist I have to contribute my part by shedding light on the situation of the refugees today, and pick up the awareness of the world to this human tragedy. Every piece of iron that I welded for this exhibition made me feel closer to the people that have to leave their homes and look for an unknown future elsewhere," said Mrs. Ben Ami. "I wish that artists will get the chance to be more influential in the world, because we are not destroying, we are creating,” she added.
 
Josh Block, the president and CEO of The Israel Project, also addressed the exhibit opening. “For us at The Israel Project, this exhibition was an opportunity to showcase Israel’s sensitivity to the dreams represented in the upheaval of the journeys of refugees. After all, Israel is a country whose people know too well what it means to search for a haven from fear and persecution,” said Mr. Block.
 
About the Artist:

Orna Ben-Ami, a former reporter and news editor transitioned from working with words to working with materials when she started to learn gold and silversmith techniques at the Jerusalem Technological Center. In 1990 she began studying sculpture at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC. Ben-Ami has been engaged in sculpting and uses iron as the main raw material for her artistic expression since 1994. Orna Ben-Ami “softens” the iron by cutting and welding it in her own hands.

Ben-Ami has had solo exhibitions in museums across the United States and her work has appeared in galleries and museums in Italy, France, Taiwan, Mexico and Israel. Forty of her outdoor sculptures are placed in public spaces in Israel and Germany.

To contact the artist:
Orna.benami(at)gmail(dot)com
972-50-6780511
http://www.ornabenami.com

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