New Haven Museum recognizes World Refugee Day

NEW HAVEN – Moussa Gueye says each brush stroke helps him cope with his past.

“It’s about what I feel. it makes me relax forget all my problems and that helps a lot,” said Moussa Gueye.

Gueye is from Western North Africa’s Mauritania. Even today it’s known to enslave people against their will especially those who speak out against the government. He studied architecture and worked in that country for two years. Then, he was thrown in prison.

Gueye said, “Because of they thought I was not on their side and everybody who is not on their side is against them.”

He made the difficult choice to leave his wife and children in 2003 and start fresh in the United States. It wasn’t easy for him.

“You leave behind your land, your family, your friend,” said Gueye. “I was so depressed. I’m alone. I don’t have friends. I can’t communicate with Africa.”

He’s one of six New Haven artists shown at Stories from Far and Near at the New Haven Museum. All are refugees.

“It is the resiliency of these individuals that is so powerful,” said the Curator for the exhibition Susan Clinard.

She says freedom of speech is the focus of many of the pieces. In the center of the room paper boats hang. Syrian children seeking asylum in New Haven made them. Syrian refugees often make dangerous treks over water to find safety.

Clinard said, “Out of the very difficult things that I don’t know if you and I could even think about, they come and they’re here and they smile and they make beautiful art.”

Gueye smiles. His family joined him here 6 years after he moved. These keys represent them in this piece. A trained architect, he pays the bills working as as a prep cook.

“I am alive. I have my family around. I am OK,” said Gueye.

The exhibit will be up until September 10th.
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