City of Stories: My Iran

PAUSErs at the ImaginAsia Open Studio event, from back left: Monica Isaac Gomez, Elizabeth Isaac, Sushmita Mazumdar, Kori Johnson, Carmen Lynette. Front left: Hamed Farmand and Sughra Hussainy

Sushmita Mazumdar brings City of Stories to ImaginAsia’s Open Studio, in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Washington DC, to create a community engagement project in conjunction with the exhibit My Iran: Six Women Photographers.

  1. To Invite: She invites participants of her studio, PAUSErs from Studio Pause, to visit the exhibit and respond to the photo/text that speaks to them. The final participants were: Mary Louise Marino, Rana Jaafar Yaseen, Elizabeth Isaac, Hamed Farmand, Lloyd Wolf, Sughra Hussainy, and Sushmita Mazumdar.
    She found that Rana Jaafar Yaseen had never been to the museum before. 13 year-old Elizabeth had never collaborated with an artist. Lloyd was a Jewish-American male photographer responding to the works of Iranian women photographers. Hamed is Iranian and his mother was arrested when he was a child. Sughra is an asylum-seeker and couldn’t return to her home in Afghanistan because of persecution because she is an artist. Mazumdar_CoSMyIran_Hamed response
  2. Create StoryPages: Sushmita then creates her signature StoryPages inspired by the photos by the photographers and text by curators in the exhibit. Into that she mixes the writings of the PAUSErs.
  3. Participate: At the weekend-long event she invites the museum visitors to participate in this community engagement project. Sushmita lets them take time to  pick a StoryPage that speaks to them and teaches them how to make them into 3D house-shaped storybooks. Here, they can respond with a reflection or story of their own. They were welcome to write in any language and did not need to translate it.

4. Display: Participants then display their books as a City of Stories installation so people can see how our art and stories can inspire others to share theirs.

“It was especially wonderful when the PAUSErs who participated in the project stopped by to meet the participants in the workshop. They got to chat, exchange stories, and a young man even wrote a note to a PAUSEr who wasn’t there.” Sush









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