december 2016

Seen for Syria

January 2 – 30, 2016

Opening Reception: Saturday January 2, 6 - 10 PM

Curated by Soulaf Abas & Alyssa Arney

Press release

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The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art is very pleased to announce Seen For Syria, a traveling exhibition featuring the works of Soulaf Abas and Muzaffar Salman as well as the children of the Seen For Syria art therapy program, on view from the 2nd of January through the 30th of January 2016. A public reception will be held on Saturday, the 2nd of January from 6:00 to 10:00 PM in addition to an artist Q&A with Abas in conjunction with the opening.

“I think art is important for everyone everywhere. We never realize, especially in the region, and for educational and cultural reasons, the incredible therapeutic component of creating anything. Even when one is not doing specifically art therapy, one is still healing when they are being creative, and this comes from my personal experience,” says Abas. Jointly their works address their experiences with their home- land and refugees by creating a visual memoir of their beloved country and by depicting the struggles of the Syrian community as well as their personal and internal passions, love, and sadness through photographs, paintings and sundry printmaking methods.

Seen For Syria was realized after Abas imagined it while on a bus ride from Washington DC to New York City in August of 2013. The entirety of Seen For Syria is comprised of three segments: a traveling art exhibition to raise awareness about the ongoing conflicts in Syria, an art education program that utilizes art therapy with Syrian children to express their traumas, and an art exchange between disadvantaged US children, who were able to escape rough neighborhoods, drugs or abusive homes, and displaced, disabled Syrian children. 50% of the art sales will go directly to the outreach programs. The exhibition amplifies the powerful voices of Abas and Salman by creating a unique use and interplay between their lives, work and meaning of their art. The exhibition is organized by Soulaf Abas and Alyssa Arney.


Damascus. 2012.etching. 21 inches by 27 inches


Soulaf Abas was born and raised in Damascus, Syria for 20+ years and lives in Terre Haute, IN. She graduated from Indiana State University in 2008 with a bachelors in Fine Arts and then her masters in 2013. She currently teaches in the art department at ISU. Seen For Syria has traveled to Jordan, Indiana, and Washington DC all in 2014.

Muzaffar Salman was born in Homs, Syria and currently lives in France. He began photography as a hobby and commenced college with an intent to study tourism. His education was interrupted to fulfill his mandatory 2 1/2 years of military service, but upon returning home he earned a diploma in Photography from the International Craft Center in Homs. He has been a freelance photographer for Thomson Reuters and the Associated Press and has exhibited his work in Rome, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, and Turkey.

The art and letters exchanged by the US and Syrian children have been condensed into Me and You, organized by Abas and published by CreateSpace in 2014. The book will be available for purchase at the OCCCA with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the outreach programs.


Explosion, 2012. Oil on canvas.16 inches by 20 inches


For inquiries, please contact the gallery at 714 667 1517 or


Press Mentions:

"Seen for Syria": Art in Service of a Moral Imagination,
KCET, By D. J. Waldie, January 19, 2016

An artist's response to the Syrian conflict,
Los Angeles Times, By Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil, January 17 2016

A Conversation With Artist Soulaf Abas On New Exhibit On Syria,
OC Weekly, By Kristine Hoang. Wednesday, December 23, 2015

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