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Boston College Artist Promotes Peace, Tolerance in Sudan, Through Creative Outreach

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Fine Arts' faculty member Khalid Kodi (at right in BC shirt) this summer, collaborating with Sudan Democracy First Group.


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (November 2014) -- The works of Sudanese-American artist Khalid Kodi, a part-time faculty member in Boston College’s Fine Arts Department, have highlighted both the atrocities and dreams of the people in war-affected areas of Sudan.

Kodi collaborated with Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) over the summer on the “Arts as Reslience” project, to offer art therapy workshops—for teachers, social and humanitarian workers—at many communities which included Muslims and Christians.

The goal was to use local materials in art projects to address the stress and trauma with which bombing survivors—the women, men and children in Sudanese war zones—cope with on a daily basis.

Kodi traveled to refugee camps in war-affected areas in South Sudan, three months after the government of Sudan launched its “Decisive Summer” operation, intended to end the insurgencies in Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan.

“Returning to the Nuba Mountains was a dream come true, and a life-changing experience,” said Kodi.

"I have learned from the people of Kauda, and those in Yida and Maban refugee camps, as much as I have shared with them. These are people who show courage, dignity and resilience in the face of terror."

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Fine Arts' faculty member Khalid Kodi (at right in BC shirt) promotes peace in the Sudan.

More than a quarter of a million refugees inhabit these camps, in addition to camps in Ethiopia. And according to the SDFG, refugees have fought with their host communities over scarce resources. As a result, Kodi worked with young people in the camps to produce artwork from recycled and found objects, two-dimensional artwork and environmental art.

In Kauda, he organized a four-day workshop attended by more than 60 women, children and men. Participants under age 10 produced art about their dreams, fears and concerns, while the adults used the language of art to freely express their ideas.

When Kodi asked the refugees what they wanted most, they expressed their wish for an end to the bombardment. In response, Kodi created an anti-bombardment campaign called “Stop Bombing Civilians in Sudan.”

Kodi worked with community members to identify bombed civilian and religious structures and locations, made signs to advocate the end of violence, and stood in front of them to display these powerful messages. That activity, he said, was appreciated by those in the bombarded areas.

As part of “Arts as Resilience” funding from the SDFG--which aims to empower Sudanese people by working with them to promote democracy in its intersection with peace, justice and human rights -- Kodi also will produce a short documentary; that project also has support from BC through a grant.

Kodi interviewed numerous community and religious leaders. And when he visited the Catholic parish founded and run by Bishop Macram Grassis, he interviewed the education coordinator and the media officer, who had witnessed bombings and were bombed several times by the Sudanese government.

Kodi’s past projects have included the “AMEN (Artists Movement to Engage Nonviolence) Project” --an initiative he launched last spring with BC student, Helen Zhang ’16, in response to a 2012 Catholic church-burning incident in a residential area in Khartoum, Sudan.

Kodi and a multi-religious and multi-ethnic BC team of artists, including students and alumni, most of whom have taken his classes, created a trove of more than a dozen paintings to be installed at the restored church. Supported by a number of groups at Boston College, the initiative advocates universal acceptance and harmony.

Kodi may be contacted directly at khalid.kodi@bc.edu. For more information on “Stop Bombing Civilians in Sudan,” visit Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/StopBombingCiviliansinSudan

--Rosanne Pellegrini