Humphrey School News

Somali-American Photo Exhibition Opens at Humphrey School

April 22, 2016
Photographer Khadija Charif

An exhibition of photographs documenting the experiences of Somali Americans in Minnesota opened to the public this week at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

At an opening reception Wednesday evening, Humphrey School Dean Eric Schwartz welcomed the two photographers, Muna Malik and Khadija Charif, praising their work as a reflection of the experiences of the many immigrant residents in the nearby Cedar Riverside neighborhood.

“What better place than the Humphrey School, which sits in the Cedar Riverside community, to host this exhibition,” said Schwartz. “It’s an example of how we live together in this neighborhood.”   

Malik’s collection, “Behind Both Fences,” focuses on the experiences of local immigrant teenagers as they negotiate their identities between their families’ origins and their homes in the Twin Cities. “Everyone has that moment when they’re trying to figure out who they are,” Malik said. “Somali teens are confronted with having to bridge two cultures, when they don’t feel like they fit in either one.”

Charif calls her collection “Jaded Youth,” which tells a story about the process of immigration. “And it is a process,” she said. “You feel like you’re a number, a statistic, a file, a document.”

Through her photographs, Charif said she wanted to show the commonalities shared by people of all backgrounds and cultures, of “being human, being understood, being vulnerable.”

Minneapolis City Councilmember Abdi Warsame, who represents the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, congratulated the two photographers for showing what it’s like to be an immigrant in America. “We have not been able to tell our own stories,” said Warsame, who is of Somali descent. “I say to young people—tell your own stories.”

You can see more photos from the opening reception on our Flickr page

The exhibition is on display in the Humphrey Forum and will be open for the general public to view on:

  • Saturday, April 23 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, April 25 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 28 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The project is produced in partnership with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Heartland Democracy, and ART WORKS Projects. The installation is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Frankel Fmaily Foundation.

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