Museum as Sanctuary Opens to the Public July 17, 2015, at the Tucson Museum of Art

July 1 / 2015

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Contact: Laura Cortelyou
Director of PR and Marketing
(520) 616-2687

Museum as Sanctuary: Perspectives of Resilience
Opens to the Public July 17, 2015 at the Tucson Museum of Art

TUCSON, ARIZONA (July 2, 2015) – Museum as Sanctuary: Perspectives of Resilience opens July 17, 2015 at the Tucson Museum of Art (TMA) in historic downtown Tucson. This collaboration with The Hopi Foundation’s Owl & Panther Project participants features artworks by refugees and asylees from Bhutan, Chile, Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Jordan, Mali, Mexico, and Nepal, who now live in Tucson. The artworks on view include self-portraits, kites, sketchbooks, sculpture, drawings, landscapes, and illustrations created at the Museum.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Owl & Panther Project serves refugees and asylees affected by traumatic dislocation, by providing expressive arts programs, trips into nature, and service opportunities that foster resilience and community acceptance.
Refugees are a large and growing population in Tucson.


• Thousands of refugees are resettled in Arizona each year from nearly every world region
• From 2012 to 2014 there was a 35% increase in refugees being resettled in Arizona
Source: Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program,

This collaboration grew into the first Museum as Sanctuary exhibition in 2013, to celebrate the growing rich diversity in the Tucson community by providing a place for extraordinary people to come together within the Museum’s walls to tell their stories.

According to Marge Pellegrino, Program Manager of Owl & Panther Project, “Tucson Museum of Art has provided Owl & Panther Project with the gift of art—both the appreciation of the Museum’s exhibitions as well as the opportunity for the project participants to create their own. Their works illustrate the transformative quality of art.”

“It has changed my attitude about art. I used to not like art, but now I think art is kind of a language,” Rasoul, a refugee from Iraq, said. “Drawing my ideas and feelings says more than when I write them down in words.”

“Our relationship with the Owl & Panther Project participants has grown over the years into a community; it’s a place where all of us feel at home when we are together,” said Morgan Wells, TMA Curator of Education.

Marianna Pegno, TMA Associate Curator of Education said, “Museum as Sanctuary: Perspectives of Resilience broadens and enriches the stories and interpretations shared within the Museum’s walls.”

Rasoul wrote a song about the Museum titled “Talk about Life”:

Talk about life, I was born for a reason
In the hot desert, in the summer season
Life is like art, and I’m the museum
My art is like my feelings, and everyone can see ’em

The Museum as Sanctuary: Perspectives of Resilience exhibition will remain on view until January 3, 2016.

Related Event: Owl & Panther Project 20th Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, September 12, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Join Owl & Panther Project for its 20th Anniversary Celebration featuring the Peruvian ensemble Entre Peruanos, plus light fare and refreshments in the Tucson Museum of Art lobby.

Tickets are $35 in advance. For more information or to purchase tickets contact Abby Hungwe at Ticket sales will benefit both Owl & Panther Project and Tucson Museum of Art.

Related Educational Event: Write On!
Saturday, October 10, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Explore the Museum as Sanctuary: Perspectives of Resilience exhibition with award-winning writer and Owl & Panther Project Program Manager, Marge Pellegrino. Respond to a variety of prompts tied to the powerful exhibition by refugees in the Tucson community. Cost is $25/members, $35/non-members.

Upcoming selected exhibitions:
Shen Wei in Black, White, and Gray, organized by the Tucson Museum of Art, October 9, 2015 – December 6, 2015
Western Heroes of Pulp Fiction: Dime Novel to Pop Culture, organized by the Tucson Museum of Art, October 24, 2015 – February 14, 2016
Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads: Gold, February 13, 2016 – June 26, 2016
Into the Night: Modern and Contemporary Art and the Nocturne Tradition, organized by the Tucson Museum of Art, opening February 27, 2016 – July 3. 2016.
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