Reena Shrestha, Georges Annan-Kingsley, and Eman Solman pictured above were among seven Asylum Hill exhibiting artists featured, along with inspiring youth performances by The Choir School of Hartford and the Hartford City Ballet, at the 2016 Town & County Club Spring Forum Hidden Treasures: Arts & Culture on Asylum Hill. These treasures should not be hidden, and for those who know the many treasures Asylum Hill has to offer, they definitely are not.
Reena, Georges, and Eman are friends whom I have the honor working with through the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association – Hartford Public Library Welcoming Committee. Reena, born and raised in Nepal, holds a BFA and MBA, and works for Hartford Public Schools and Hartford Public Library; Georges, born in Ghana, and raised in Cote d’Ivoire, is a painter, sculptor, art teacher and author; Eman is from Iraq. She creates jewelry, a craft she mastered while in exile in Syria.
Other friends exhibiting were Lar Pwe Paw, Louisa Barton-Duguay, and Bernie Michel. Lar, born in Burma, creates sculptures from recycled material, a skill she developed while in a Thai refugee camp; Louisa, a native of the prairies of Canada, is artist in residence and outreach worker at Grace Lutheran Church; and Bernie, born and raised in Ohio, originally worked in the music industry, and now is an accomplished photographer.
Rounding out the exhibiting artists were Marthe Annan-Kingsley and Magrette Balogou. Marthe, originally from Cote d’Ivoire, is a case manager/interpreter at Catholic Charities managing placement of refugees. She creates fine jewelry. Magrette, from Togo, West Africa, owns an Asylum Hill store that features handicraft from Africa, Jamaica, and Haiti.
The Forum also hosted a panel discussion moderated by Rabbi Donna Berman, executive director of the Charter Oak Cultural Center. Panelist were Dartanion Reed, Artistic Director of the Hartford City Ballet (HBC) and the School of HBC; Bert Landman Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal Church and The Choir School of Hartford; and Georges Annan-Kingsley.
Annan-Kingsley, Reed and Landman shared their journeys on becoming accomplished artists and educators. Their impassioned presentations stressed the absolute importance of artistic expression in youth development and education. Then Reed and Landman directed youth from their organizations in outstanding ballet and choral performances — most definitely the highlight of the afternoon.
To learn more about Dartanion Reed and Bert Landman please visit their respective organizations’ websites featured above.
Don Shaw, Jr.
Don Shaw, Jr.
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Photos by Don Shaw, Jr.