- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - An exhibit in the heart of Terre Haute is the latest effort by a Syrian-born artist to bring the suffering of that nation’s civil war into focus in the American Midwest.

“REMAINS II,” on exhibit in Indiana State University’s Fairbanks Hall, portrays what’s left of homes, towns, bridges and the Syrian countryside.

The centerpiece of the exhibit by Soulaf Abas is an installation of how a Syrian living room might appear after an attack such as the two bombings her parents’ home has experienced.

The display includes a shredded couch, broken chair, tables and chunks of concrete but also dolls, children’s books and a half-eaten apple - items that resonate the most for viewers said Abas, artist in residence at Indiana State.

“That was the strongest indication that someone was just here,” she said, adding that items used for the installation were all purchased at Goodwill. “Every time we get rid of something we also leave a little bit of ourselves in it.”

The exhibit features paintings exploring Abas‘ reaction to news images from Syria - “psychological landscapes,” she said, quoting a friend who is also an artist.

The title of one oil-on-canvas work, “Wounded Skies,” seems to underscore the devastation Abas feels.

The exhibit also includes etchings of images Abas took at a refugee camp in Jordan in 2014.

“I wanted to honor those people and their stories by making prints and sharing the editions of the prints with people and also having their stories on the back of each print and giving them away,” she said.

The exhibit is “a reminder that there are all these people who are in pain and while we view all of these images and read the news, sometimes we don’t pause and take a moment to actually feel other people’s pain. We’ve become kind of numb to all of that,” Abas said.

It is part of her ongoing effort “to keep the story alive and to prevent war from turning us into numbers and becoming insignificant, because those people do matter and their stories matter,” she said.

Abas hopes, of course, for an end to the war, “but when the war is over in the land how do you end the war inside?” she asked. “That’s another reason my paintings are changing. I’m trying to explore what’s happened inside me. How do you come to peace after everything you’ve always known has been taken away from you. That will take generations.”

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Source: The (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star, https://bit.ly/2piFgHX

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Information from: Tribune-Star, https://www.tribstar.com

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