What We Carried by Jim Lommasson

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"You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations and problems. You will own it all." —General Colin Powell Over four million Iraqis have fled their homes since the 2003 invasion.

These refugees didn't leave their country to get a better job or because of a natural disaster. They left because of a brutal dictator and industrial warfare that has virtually destroyed their country. The long journey from the Republic of Iraq to the United States of America may take months, sometimes years, and includes refugee camps, piles of documents and occasionally bribery. Iraqi refugees brought these objects with them on their journey to America. The objects range from photos of family, a Qur'an or a piece of jewelry to traditional family heirlooms. The objects have been photographed and then contextualized on the photographic print by the Iraqi participant. The participants' additions transform the works into powerful, breathtaking documentations.

Artist Bio

Jim Lommasson is a freelance photographer and author living in Portland, Oregon. Lommasson received the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for his first book, Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & The Will To Survive In American Boxing Gyms. In 2009 Oregon State University Press published Lommasson's Oaks Park Pentimento: Portland's Lost and Found Carousel Art. He is currently working on a book and traveling exhibition about American Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and their lives after their return from war, called Exit Wounds: Soldiers' Stories - Life After Iraq and Afghanistan. Lommasson was awarded a Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) Project Grant for What We Carried, and is a 2012-2016 Oregon Humanities Conversation Grant Recipient for his public discussion "Life after War: Photography and Oral Histories of Coming Home."