Oria Simonini, "Untitled", watercolor on Strathmore, 4 x 6 in.
Oria Simonini, “Untitled”, watercolor on Strathmore, 4 x 6 in.

Now in its 7th year, the New American Arts Festival is a joint project of Lutheran Family Services and Benson First Friday. Its Reframed edition, reimagined for the pandemic, is scheduled to kick off on Friday, August 7 in a combination of virtual and in-person opportunities.

Lutheran Family Services, an agency dedicated to assisting immigrants negotiate aspects of resettlement, launched an initiative in 2016 to connect refugee artists to the area art community and help with material, space and time to pursue their talents.

This year’s festival has many of the features you’d expect in an international celebration—dance troupes, musicians, and artisans of traditional crafts, with 2020 participants hailing from Rwanda, Sudan, Nepal, Kurdish regions, the Andes, Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar.

On the in-person fine arts side, Hardy Coffee will exhibit sculptures and ink drawings on sheepskin leather of Asaad Komi. The Sudanese native has lived in Nebraska since 2013 and likes to create “visual culture documentary” through his highly detailed portraits, often featuring images of mothers engaged in traditional household activities.

The Little Gallery is hosting a show of the paintings of Oria Simonini. Born in French Guiana to Argentine parents, Simonini grew up in Guatemala before her family migrated to Nebraska, where she has recently completed her BFA at UNL. Her expressive figural compositions often focus on periods of waiting and uncertainty, an essential difficulty of the migrant experience.

Concurrently, Little Gallery is hosting Millard South’s New American Student group exhibition, led by Mike Giron. Additionally, CityLight Arts Project is showing Joslyn Art Museum’s fashion arts program.

Live and virtual offerings are available on August 7 from 5-10pm. For more information, visit www.naaf.co/naaf-reframed.

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