And Their "Views" Will Be Given Due Consideration:
A panel discussion reflecting on the murals will focus on children's art and Iraqi history and culture

States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
- Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CCRC)

John Malcolm Russell, an American archaeologist of the ancient Near East, writes passionately of why we need to allow these objects to tell us their full histories by not wrenching them out of their archaeological contexts. Knowledge of history, he shows, is crucial not only to our sense of selfhood, but also to allowing us--rather than others--to control the substance of that self.
Robin Greeley, Art Journal 62.4 (Winter 2003)

This action, this making a mark on the world, is so significant and yet gets overlooked when the desire by adults is to have a "good finished product."
Laura Thompson, Director of Exhibitions and Education for the award-winning Kidspace at MASS MoCA since 2002.

Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 p.m.
Northampton Center for the Arts

With Panelists: (more about the panelists below):

Thamir Dawood - Iraqi artist working in collaboration with ICAE in Jordan and the US
Peter Pufall -- Research Associate/Professor Emeritus Dept. of Psychology, Smith College
John Russell - Professor of the History of Art at Mass College of Art and Design with a specialty in the art of ancient Iraq.
Dr. Laura Thompson - Director of Exhibitions and Education for KidSpace@MassMoCA since 2002.

Every day, all around the world -- in the global south and in the north, in the east and in the west -- parents, teachers, therapists, social and humanitarian aid workers give children and youth art materials, with no particular instructions. We encourage them to paint and draw, cut, paste and sculpt for the sheer pleasure of it.

But beyond that, we recognize art as an important, powerful and expressive language of childhood, one that gives children and youth a voice and helps them organize and understand the oftentimes baffling world around them. Some would say that children can express themselves and their ideas more fully, and with more meaningful details using pencil, crayon, paint and canvas than they can in conversation. If you want a window onto a child’s life, offer them art materials.

International treaties and human rights documents, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, mandate the inclusion of children and youth voices in all matters that affect them and guarantees their right to have their views taken seriously. How can this happen, realistically, when "the matter" is an international conflict. Art, a universal language, a tangible and enduring document, offers a meaningful way for children and youth to participate and it offers adults a meaningful way to include them.

They have spoken and now we have an opportunity to see, hear and reflect on what they have said. Panelists will discuss the Iraqi and American murals from the perspective of their particular expertise. Discussion will follow.

Panelist Bios:

Thamer Dawood Al Sudani was born in Baghdad in 1966, received a diploma in painting from the Fine Arts Institute of Baghdad in 1986, and his BA in painting from the College of Fine Arts in 2000. He is a member of the Plastic Artists Society and Iraqi Scribers Association. He has had solo and group exhibitions throughout the Middle East, in Japan, Sweden and the US. "When we dive into the world of the artist Thamer Dawood, the questions open up like eyes focusing on the respectable meanings embedded in his paintings, calligraphies and designs…." - Tashkil Magazine, 2009 review of "Letter Brought to Life or Immersion in Meanings"

Peter B. Pufall received his Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America, 1966, after a postdoctoral at the University of Minnesota he took a position within the Department of Psychology at Smith College where he primarily taught courses in child development. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of and a Senior Fellow at the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute at Smith College. He was the president of the Jean Piaget Society, a society from which he received a lifetime achievement award in 2003

Laura Thompson (EdD) is Director of Exhibitions and Education for the award-winning Kidspace at MASS MoCA. Since 2002, Thompson has brought about Kidspace’s expanded gallery and artist residency program, established educationally appropriate curriculum materials and programs, strengthened the collaboration between the museums and school districts, and curated highly-acclaimed Kidspace exhibitions with world renowned artists such as Devorah Sperber, Long-Bin Chen, Portia Munson, and Tim Rollins.

John Russell, PhD. is Professor of the History of Art at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, with a specialty in the art of ancient Iraq. In mid-May 2003 Dr. Russell was invited to participate in the first UNESCO mission to Iraq to assess the impact of the invasion and war on cultural heritage. He continues to be a member of the UNESCO team.

Dr. Russell is the author of many books and articles on Ancient Iraq, including From Nineveh to New York: The Strange Story of the Assyrian Reliefs in the Metropolitan Museum & the Hidden Masterpiece at Canford School (London: Yale University Press, 1997). He is the recipient of numerous grants, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Recovering Iraq's Past, 2004 and awards for his work, including in 2005 the Archaeological Institute of America Outstanding Public Service Award.