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Unique perspectives in artist, Arab activist conversation

Sep 13, 2019
El Fadel Arbab and Kenny Cole.

BELFAST — Artist/curator Kenny Cole of Monroe and activist El Fadel Arbab of Portland (by way of Sudan) present a conversation in response to Cole’s piece, “The Khashoggi Story,” at Waterfall Arts, 256 High St., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held in the Clifford Gallery and is free and open to the public.

Are you interested in unique perspectives and fascinating stories? El Fadel will discuss his own experiences as an activist and his perspective on the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. A survivor of genocide, El Fadel fled the Darfur region of Sudan at age 12 and currently lives in Portland. This evening will be a unique opportunity for the local community to hear from someone with a direct and deep personal connection to the Arab world who has survived state-sponsored violence. Now an American citizen, El Fadel is a great local resource for anyone who wants to understand how some of the United States’ international involvement and actions might affect other cultures and societies.

"I was mesmerized by El Fadel. He’s an amazing storyteller and has an incredible story to tell. His kindness and humor showed through his speaking. I loved the way he shared his relationship with the elders and how their wisdom came to him in his times of need. Our culture, with all of its advances, is missing this profound wisdom. What a beautiful friendship you two have and thank you for sharing it. It was one of the best days I have had in quite a while," said Kitty Winslow, an artist from Rockland, who heard them talk in Camden last February.

The conversation will center around Cole’s piece, “The Khashoggi Story,” as a part of the “Gallery Closed” exhibit, on view until Sept. 20. “The Khashoggi Story” is an interactive installation piece in his series of “pass through” walls, created to reenact the moment journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Turkish embassy never to be seen again. Visitors can pass through two successive walls that appear to close off access to the Clifford Gallery. Each wall has a large painting hinged like a door that can be opened to reveal a portal, which visitors can step through. Additionally, there are a series of framed gouache paintings on paper in the corridor gallery, which represent 25 Saudi dissidents; some of who still languish in Saudi prisons and for whom Khashoggi tried to speak out for. For more information about Cole, visit

Launched in 2000, Waterfall Arts is a community arts center that offers resources to students, professionals and arts enthusiasts of all ages. For more information on the event, call 338-2222, email Cole at or email El Fadel Arbab at

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