Launch Pad Gallery: Featuring the work of local emerging artists.

What We Carried

Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization

Big thanks to Ronny Hermiz and Zeyad Polus for playing at the opening

A collaborative project conceived by Jim Lommasson and Oregon Iraqi Refugees. The exhibit will include photographs and writing and paintings by Farooq Hassan and Samir Khurshid.



What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization is about leaving one’s homeland. Portland Photographer/Writer Jim Lommasson is currently photographing and interviewing Iraqi refugees and immigrants who have fled to the U.S. since 1990. This project dovetails with Lommasson’s visual and oral history of returning American soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars called Exit Wounds. Lommasson feels that there is another side of the story that needs to be told, about those who have left their homeland and are now resettling around the world. Lommasson is photographing those few important personal items that have survived the long journey from Iraq to the U.S. The journey may take months, sometime even years, and includes refugee camps, piles of documents and possibly a few bribes. After photographing the objects, Lommasson asks the participants to write about the significance of their objects on the finished photographs.




Jim Lommasson is a freelance photographer and writer 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. 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. The book will include Lommasson’s photographs, and photographs and writing by the participants. He was awarded a Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) Project Grant for What We Carried, and is a 2012 Oregon Humanities Conversation Grant Recipient for his public discussion “Life after War: Photography and Oral Histories of Coming Home.”

Farook Hassanwas born in Basrah, Iraq in 1939. He graduated from the Fine Arts Institute from Baghdad 1960, and from the Fine Arts Acadamy from Rome, Italy 1980. He has held many solo and joint exhibitions locally and internationally. His art work bestows the ancient city of Hatra’s Queens, moons, suns, a magical and mystical feel in today’s artistic median. His thought process, technical painting experience, and clear foresight of the future has given his artwork originality in the Iraqi artistic community.

Samir Khurshid, a well known artist from northern Iraq, was born in 1978, and studied at the University of Technology in Iraq. He painted 83 portraits of Saddam Hussein before the American forces ousted Saddam from office. All of the paintings were eventually burned. He then painted portraits for American soldiers to make ends meet until the Iraqi opposition learned about his work and his life was threatened. He escaped to Turkey, where he lived for five years before coming to Portland. Khurshid is now settled and supported here in North Portland at the Falcon Art Community where he continues to make and show his art.

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What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization is funded in part by The Regional Arts and Culture Council


Selected Pieces

click thumbnail for a full-size view.