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MILWAUKEE (December 18, 2018) … When Nina Ghanbarzadeh immigrated from Iran to the United States she changed careers from chemistry to art. The drastic change in both vocation and location led her to feel out of place in both Iranian and American cultures, but her art practice allowed her to find her voice. Her experiences navigating two cultures, languages, diversity and social norms is the inspiration for curating “I Contain Multitudes,” an exhibition on view in the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s (MIAD) Frederick Layton Gallery January 18 – March 9, 2019. The exhibition is generously supported in part by the Mary L. Nohl Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Art by Helen Zughaib

Secret Lie Self by Helen Zughaib

In the exhibition, the work of 10 women artists from different countries invites viewers to consider how multiculturalism impacts their lives, and how it relates to the issues of immigration and diversity in today’s society.

“I Contain Multitudes is not only about the experiences and stories of the 10 artists, but it also is a testimony on the value and importance of diversity in our society. What makes this country so unique and beautiful is the people with different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures,” said Ghanbarzadeh. “We all have roots in different places, and different stories and experiences. So, who is an American? What makes an American an American?”

Many of the artists featured not only immigrated to America, but like Ghanbarzadeh, changed their life’s work to pursue their passion. Ghanbarzadeh hopes audiences will consider the value of art and its purpose in helping immigrants express themselves and the challenges of negotiating multiple cultures. “This exhibition is a good vehicle for students to learn about different cultures, and ask questions about what inspires certain art to be made.”

Special programming and events include:

  • Opening Night – Fri., Jan. 18, 5 – 9 p.m. during Winter Gallery Night in the Historic Third Ward
  • Opening Reception & Artists’ Discussion – Sat., Jan. 19, 2 p.m. Meet the 10 artists participating in the exhibit and view a documentary created about the making of this exhibition.
  • Navigating Between Cultures: Artists’ Talk and Panel Discussion – Feb. 7, 7 p.m. Fawzia Khan and Hend Al-Mansour lead a discussion on challenges of simultaneously being part of two cultures.
  • Talking Suitcases – Wed., Feb. 27, 7 p.m. Susan Armington discusses her project and workshops to fill a suitcase with handmade objects that tell stories and help participants gain insights about themselves, touching on topics such as immigration, racism, grief, personal loss and life transition.

Art by Fawzia Khan

Safer by Fawzia Khan

In addition to Ghanbarzadeh, artists participating in the exhibition include:

  • Hend Al-Mansour, a former cardiologist from Saudi Arabia, she now makes prints in Minneapolis.
  • Painter and mapmaker Susan Armington lives in Minneapolis and spent time teaching in Japan.
  • Visual artist Nida Bangash, born in Iran and raised in Pakistan, creates miniatures in McKinney, Texas.
  • Roya Farassat, an Iranian painter/sculptor, lives and creates in New York City.
  • Farida Hughes, an American abstract artist of Asian-Indian/American descent, explores community engagement and movement in her mixed media work.
  • Fawzia Khan, a Pakistani-American abstract artist born in Nigeria and living in Minneapolis, works in the visual arts after a career in obstetrics/gynecology.
  • Ifrah Mansour was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Somalia, Kenya and the United States. The Muslim Somali refugee is now a multimedia artist and educator in Minnesota.
  • Kimberlee Joy Roth, a former physics and science teacher who has spent time in several European countries and Israel, is a ceramic artist living in Minneapolis.
  • Helen Zughaib, a native of Beirut, Lebanon, currently lives and works in Washington, D.C.

MIAD’s galleries are free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. More information at