Exile, Memory, and Welcoming the Stranger

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 3:00 to 7:00 PM
Benedicta Arts Center, College of Saint Benedict

Opening of the art exhibit 
“Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory” by Laurie Wohl 

This exhibit of Laurie Wohl’s stunningly beautiful “Unweavings,” as she calls her fiber art pieces, interweaves Christian, Jewish and Muslim spiritual writings from the Convivencia in Spain (8th-15th centuries) with contemporary Middle Eastern poetry, particularly Palestinian and Israeli. Wohl emphasizes the striking parallels between Arabic and Hebrew texts, with the common themes of love, exile, nostalgia, mistrust of enemies and yearning for reconciliation. An audio component includes readings in English, Arabic and Hebrew and a specially-composed soundscape by composer Daniel Wohl, illustrating the commonality of the Middle Eastern languages. The exhibit will be in the Gorecki Gallery in the Benedicta Arts Center at the College of Saint Benedict from August 27-October 28.

3:00 to 4:15 PM – Gorecki Family Theater
Presentation by artist Laurie Wohl
with musical accompaniment by Voices of Sepharad and guests, an ensemble of musicians
from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions

4:30 to 5:45 PM – Gorecki Family Theater
Panel presentations by Dr. Mary Hinton, Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, and Dr. Cawo Abdi
on Christian, Jewish, and Muslim mandates to welcome strangers 

6:00 to 7:00 PM – Gorecki Gallery
Artist reception and exhibit opening 


Laurie Wohl is an internationally known fiber artist whose unique Unweavings® convey spiritual narratives through form, color, texture and calligraphy. Her works are held in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, Constitutional Court of South Africa, Catholic Theological Union, and numerous other public and private collections. Among her special projects have been interactive set designs for full-length dance pieces by Callince Dance (New York City) and Jan Erkert & Dancers (Chicago). She speaks frequently
                      on art and worship, as well as on text and textile. 


Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D., is president of the College of Saint Benedict, a position she has held since 2014. She earned her Ph.D. in religion and religious education from Fordham University and her scholarly interests include African American religious history, religious education, and leadership, as well as strategic planning and diversity in the academy. She is the author of the book The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America.

Marcia Zimmerman is senior rabbi at Temple Israel in Minneapolis, one of the largest Jewish congregations in the United States. She earned an M.A. in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Dedicated to ensuring that Temple Israel’s programming and religious school are inclusive of interfaith families and those with special needs, she has been deeply engaged in interfaith initiatives for many years. 

Cawo Abdi, Ph.D., is associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Sussex in England and her research interests include migration, transnationalism, Islam, race, class, gender, and globalization.  Among her many publications is the book Elusive Jannah: The Somali Diaspora and Borderless Muslim Identity. 


Panel Moderators

Rediet Negede Lewi ’19 is a psychology major, a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies, co-president of the CSB/SJU chapter of Psi-Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology, and a student interfaith leader with the Jay Phillips Center. For the summer of 2018 she received a CSB/SJU All-College Thesis Summer Fellowship for work on her senior thesis.

Danica Simonet ’19 majors in German and peace studies, with an individualized concentration in forced migration. A former member of the CSB Senate, she is president of the CSB/SJU Peace Studies Club, co-director of Extending the Link, a group of CSB/SJU students who produce documentaries to ignite social change, and a student interfaith leader with the Jay Phillips Center.


Musicians: Voices of Sepharad and Guests

Voices of Sepharad
, a Twin Cities-based ensemble founded in 1986 and directed by David Jordan Harris, celebrates the rich multicultural world of Sephardic music, dance and storytelling.

David Jordan Harris is co-founder and artistic director of Voices of Sepharad. He has pursued study and performance of Sephardic music throughout North America, Morocco, Greece, France, Israel, Turkey, Poland, Bosnia, and Spain. He is executive director of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council and interfaith arts special consultant for the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning. 

Mick LaBriola is a freelance performer/percussionist, educator, residency artist, dance-theater accompanist, and founding member of Voices of Sepharad. He is a roster artist with a number of arts organization, including the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Nevada State Arts Council. 

David Burk plays a variety of stringed instruments used in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Latin, African, Caribbean, and North American musical traditions. While maintain a full private lesson studio for guitar, bass, banjo, and mandolin students, he has performed regularly with The Rose Ensemble (since 2005) as well as with Voices of Sepharad (since 1998). 

Salah Abdel Fattah, a native of Egypt, has played the Arabic violin since the 1960s and has recorded in Egypt for television with Abdel Aziz Mahmoud. He currently plays with the Minneapolis-based classical Arabic music ensemble Amwaaj, which he founded more than 15 years ago. 

Maryam Yusefzadeh received her early musical training in Iran at the Tehran School of Music, later earning a BFA in Art, Music, and Dance Performance at the University of Minnesota. A co-founder of the ensemble Roboyat, she is actively involved with Persian music as a vocalist, percussionist, educator, and guest lecturer.  

Program presented by
Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John’s University
in collaboration with
Fine Arts Programming at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University
with funding provided by 
Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota