Stories of the Somali Diaspora: An Artists' talk with Abdi Roble & Doug Rutledge

January 23, 2009, Olin Arts Center room 104 at 6:00pm

Photographer Abdi Roble’s and writer Doug Rutledge’s collaboration together on the Somalia Documentary Project has culminated in the exhibition and book /The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away. In this talk, they will present their firsthand accounts of how the project began, how they carried it through, and the future projects.

Abdi Roble is a photographer with a vision for social justice. Abdi was born in Magadishu, Somalia in 1964 where he became an international soccer star. After Abdi immigrated to the United States in 1989. he developed a passion for photography. He had already had several shows, including three sponsored by Leica of Japan, Cuba and Europe, when he asked himself how he could use his talent in the service of his people. In answer to this profound personal question, he started the Somali Documentary Project in 2003. Since that moment, both Abdi and the project have been blessed with success. In 2005, he had a show at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus, which has since moved throughout the Midwest. His show, “Against Forgetting, Beyond Genocide and Civil War” was at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis in 2006. For his artistic success, Abdi has won the Individual Artist Award from both the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council and because of his many lectures and educational presentations, Abdi was given the Arts Freedom Award by the South Side Settlement House in 2006. Along with Writer Doug Rutledge, his book, The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2008.

Doug Rutledge dedicated most of his life to humanitarian issues. He has a Ph. D from the University of Chicago. He has taught on the college level for about 20 years. The University of Delaware Press published his book, Ceremony and Text in the Renaissance. He has had three plays produced, including “Run, Run from the Setting of the Sun,” which was performed both in Columbus and New York. He has also published numerous poems and essays. Most recently, his poetry appeared in Whatever House We Come From, published by Pudding-house Press. He has also written for the Somali Link Newspaper and is the writer for the Somali Documentary Project. Since leaving academics, Doug has been a passionate advocate for social justice. Along with Photographer Abdi Roble, he has presented Somali concerns to American audiences through lectures, presentations and shows at Ohio State University, The University of Minnesota and local schools, churches and art organizations throughout the country. In the fall of 2008, he and Abdi Roble will have a book published through the University of Minnesota Press entitled, The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away.