Andrea Perdomo / Contributing Writer
The Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs has joined forces with international organization Turquoise Mountain to create an exhibit that will highlight the art and culture of Afghanistan.
This new exhibition was created in the hopes of challenging negative stereotypes about Afghanistan.
Turquoise Mountain was founded in 2006 in an effort to preserve tradition and restore historic areas of Afghanistan. It aims to teach artisanal skills which can also provide jobs to the people of the war stricken country. The organization has spread to other countries and has had exhibitions in various parts of the world most notably in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
SIPA’s Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, Pedro Botta, visited the Smithsonian and became entranced with the exhibit, “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan.”
“I was just blown away at the story. It was just a refreshingly positive story coming out of the Muslim world. A positive story coming out of Afghanistan, a place that we associate with war, with devastation, with all types of negative things. Unfortunately, that is the perception we get of that country from the mainstream media and to see something good actually come out of Afghanistan in this way I thought it was a really important story that the world needs to hear, at least our students, need to hear,” said Botta.
Botta got to work speaking to SIPA Dean John F. Stack and the founders of Turquoise Mountain to make it happen. He enlisted the help of sophomore bachelor of fine arts student Mario Daniel Alvarado to curate the exhibition that will take place on the first floor of the SIPA building at the MMC campus.
Alvarado said that his goal for the exhibit is to “express the emotion of the Smithsonian show, and not per se, the imagery itself.”
Alvarado wants to enchant its visitors with the beautiful objects on display while educating them on Afghanistan’s culture. The exhibit will feature traditional Afghan woodwork, pottery, jewelry and a woven rug that were made by working artists trained by Turquoise Mountain. The pieces were commissioned by the Green School to keep with the organization’s vision of arming artists with a means to economically sustain themselves.
“It’s a fascinating story of sustainable development that emerged through the arts,” said Botta.
SIPA’s version of Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan will be unveiled Thursday, Oct. 26. Although details for the opening are still being ironed out, Botta assures that food, soft drinks and music will be a part of it. The exhibit will run through the end of the summer semester, 2018.