Presenting the Urquhart Award winner in this month's show, "Emancipation and Freedom":
"DC Kaffee Freedom"
by Ahmed Idam
Ahmed Alkarkhi Idam is an Iraqi-born painter with a fascinating back story. He is a refugee from his home country, having arrived in D.C. in August of 2009 with his family. He left Iraq seeking new opportunities and freedoms he couldn't find back home.
Though it wasn't always so stifling in Iraq. Baghdad's culture was an inspiration to Ahmed for years until 2006, when violence, war and religious conflict began to take over the region. Creative minds from all mediums...theater, art, music, academia...were harassed by the new regime, so they began to make other plans.
Ahmed took his family to Damascus, where they anxiously awaited refugee status to come to America. Though Ahmed's talent wasn't at a stand-still there; the UN sponsored several exhibits for him while they waited for their papers.
Finally, in summer of 2009, the family came to D.C. Ahmed has had two solo exhibits already and was interviewed on NPR last December. Listen to the segment here.
The back story of "D.C. Kaffee Freedom" takes place in an American coffeehouse. Ahmed was so astounded to walk into public cafes where men and women chatted freely and openly. In his hometown, only men are allowed into the shops and their conversations are monitored. The painting of the man and the woman sitting together drinking coffee is a symbol of why Ahmed loves his new homeland so much.