Celebrating Community: Women’s Empowerment Group Visits the MFAH May 13, 2020

Aiding refugee women and their transition to the United States, the Women’s Empowerment Group of Interfaith Ministries (IM) is designed to prevent isolation, build community, and equip women with information and skills to thrive in their new lives. Chloe Krane, women’s empowerment liaison for IM, takes us behind the scenes of the group’s MFAH tour in February.

What inspired the field trip to the MFAH?
Our Women's Empowerment Group encourages members to explore and feel part of the cultural life of Houston. Refugee women can lack the confidence to visit public institutions alone, especially when they haven’t yet mastered English. Visiting the MFAH as a group builds the women’s confidence and puts the Museum in their comfort zone. Art plays an important role in trauma recovery, and the connection with the MFAH is a positive presence in the lives of our refugee community.

What were some highlights of the visit?
We have over 40 refugee women in our group and most need help with transport, so our amazing volunteer team drove the women and their children to the Museum. Everyone was buzzing with excitement. The MFAH made us feel welcome from the moment we arrived and arranged for Farah Killidar, an Arabic-speaking volunteer, to translate. We first heard from curator Aimée Froom, and then we toured the Art of the Islamic Worlds galleries in the Law Building.

Then our docent, Vehista Kaikobad, fascinated the group with anecdotes about the art we saw along the way in the Beck Building galleries. Artist Mary Cassatt was particularly interesting for the group. While viewing Susan Comforting the Baby, they learned how Cassatt fought gender inequality to pursue painting professionally in a male-dominated society. We ended the day with Picasso’s Woman with a Large Hat and Two Women in Front of a Window. This tour was the first time many of the women had the chance to see such internationally renowned art.

What was most memorable for the group?
I think the size of the collection and the design of the Museum. As Dayana from Syria put it, “I love the exquisite nature of the Museum and how put together it is. You can get lost in this place and never notice you spent six hours here. It’s astounding how much art is in one place and just how big it is!”

Mary Cassatt, Susan Comforting the Baby