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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 17, 2008

UI Museum of Art exhibition explores art and human rights

Many artists have documented their beliefs about human rights abuses in Iraq. Painter and printmaker Daniel Heyman got to go one step further when he was invited to travel to the Middle East and witness interviews with former Iraqi detainees.

Drawing on his first-hand experiences, Heyman created portraits of more than 25 released prisoners of all ages, occupations and backgrounds. A selection of these works will be on view Nov. 1, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009 in the free, public exhibition "Eye Witness: Daniel Heyman's Portraits of Iraqi Torture Victims," presented by the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) in the Old Capitol Museum's Hanson Family Humanities Gallery. The exhibition was organized by UIMA Chief Curator Kathleen A. Edwards.

"Eye Witness" is the first public exhibition organized by the Museum of Art since the flood forced evacuation and closure of the UIMA building in June.

"We are doing everything possible to fulfill our educational mission while we are without a permanent building, and part of that mission is presenting high-quality art exhibitions," said UIMA Interim Director Pamela White. "We're delighted that we've been able to collaborate with others on campus to make this exhibition happen."

"Eye Witness" will include the eight-print drypoint etching series "The Amman Portfolio," recently purchased by the UIMA with funds donated by Julie and Carl Schweser, as well as two large watercolor accordion books and five gouache paintings.

Heyman said his goal in traveling to the Middle East was to "reclaim for the victims of torture their right to describe what happened in their own words."

Much like a courtroom artist, the 44-year-old worked quickly to create works that told the former detainees' stories. He chose to fill the space around the figures with a direct transcription of their words in order to let their words tell the story. The result is a collection of spare, expressionistic works that force the viewer to recognize the subject's humanity.

Heyman will discuss his working method in depth during a free, public gallery talk at 4 p.m. on Dec. 4 in the Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber.

Other free, public events taking place in conjunction with the exhibition will be:

-- Symposium: "Face-to-Face: The Terror of Interrogation," from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31 in the Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber. Presented by the UI College of Law and organized by David Danzig, director of "The Prime Time Torture Project" with Human Rights First, and Serena Stier, UI adjunct professor of law and art history. Preview tour of the exhibition to follow symposium.

-- Panel Discussion on KSUI's "Know the Score LIVE!" from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 in the Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber, with reception to follow. Panel participants include: Heyman; Joshua Casteel, a UI playwrights Workshop and the Nonfiction Writing Program student and the author of "Letters From Abu Ghraib" (2008); UI Professor Paul Kramer, author of "The Blood of Governments: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines" (2006); and Kristin Antin, community builder for the Center for Victims of Torture.

It was a chance meeting with attorneys Susan Burke and Shereef Akeel-two lawyers working on class action lawsuit on behalf of the tortured former detainees-that took Heyman to the Middle East. Burke invited Heyman, in his capacity as an artist, to accompany them on an upcoming journey to visit their clients in Amman, Jordan in 2006. Since that initial visit, Heyman has returned to the Middle East with the legal team six times. Most recently, in September 2007, he heard testimony from Iraqi victims of violence at the hands of Blackwater Security employees in Baghdad.

Heyman, a Philadelphia-based artist, earned an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and is a cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College. His work has been in solo shows in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Harford and Sydney, as well as many regional and national group shows, and it has been acquired by such notable public collections as the New York Public Library, Yale University Gallery, Baltimore Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Princeton University Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress. To view a sampling of his works, please visit

Heyman's many honors include an AMJ Foundation Grant, an Independence Foundation Grant, a 5-County Arts Fund Grant, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts S.O.S. Grant, two Professional Development Grants from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a James B. Reynolds International Fellowship (France) from Dartmouth College. He has done residencies in various institutions across the nation and in Japan, and presented workshops and lectured at the Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, Fashion Institute of Technology, Centre International des Arts Contemporain (Pont Aven, France) and Philadelphia University. Currently, he teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design and Swarthmore College.

"Eye Witness: Daniel Heyman's Portraits of Iraqi Torture Victims" and the surrounding programming is presented with support from Julie and Carl Schweser, Joyce and W. Richard Summerwill, Serena Stier and Steve Burton and the UI College of Law. The exhibition is presented by the UIMA in collaboration with Old Capitol Museum, the UI Center for Human Rights, the College of Law and the UI School of Art and Art History.

The UI Museum of Art was evacuated from its building in June because of the flood. Many exhibitions and events slated to be held at the UIMA have been moved to alternate venues. For more information on the UI Museum of Art and the latest schedule information, visit

Regular hours at the Old Capitol Museum are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Old Capitol is closed Mondays and national holidays. For more information, visit

For UI arts information and calendar updates visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

Photos are available from the Museum of Art. To request photos for publication, contact Maggie Anderson, 319-335-1731,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1731,; Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (cell), 319-541-2846 (office),