Last month, the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), an A&E grantee, welcomed its new Chief Curator Wassan Al-Khudhairi to the team. We sat down with Al-Khudhairi to discuss her new role at CAM and why contemporary art is vital to our community.

You've lived and worked all over the world. Why St. Louis and why CAM?

What really attracted me to CAM was its great, long history of wonderful exhibitions. I didn't know much about St. Louis, but I've been learning; and I think to be able to be part of the fabric of a city that has such a rich history of arts and culture and to think about how contemporary art can be part of that is something I'm really interested in.

What role can contemporary art play in the community?

I think that contemporary art can help us see things in a different way or through another perspective. I think through the process of engaging with contemporary art, there's all these kinds of possibilities of connections that can happen in this kind of climate - not just in this country but in the world right now.

Can you tell us about the Hayv Kahraman exhibition opening in September?

The show that I've been working on is an artist who's based in Los Angeles - her name is Hayv Kahraman. She's originally from Baghdad and has been living in the U.S. She was a refugee and left Iraq and has lived across Europe and in the U.S. for many years now. Her work explores the idea of being a refugee and its effect on your physical body, in this kind of way that your body stores the emotions of that experience. The paintings are beautifully executed. And then in November, she will come and do a performance.

For more information on CAM's fall exhibitions, visit