Developed in collaboration with an international network of artists and journalists from the Middle East, Europe and the United States, CULTURUNNERS is an independent model of cultural exchange and production; one which empowers and mobilizes international artists to tell stories and create art across physical and psychological borders.

CULTURUNNERS prioritizes direct encounters and storytelling, trusting in the power of artists' journeys to uncover counter narratives and inspire greater empathy between communities around the world. While traveling with CULTURUNNERS, artists host exhibitions, talks and workshops, and collaborate with resident film-makers and journalists to broadcast mobile dispatches via media channels and CULTURUNNERS interactive website.


Against the backdrop of the 2016 US Presidential elections, CULTURUNNERS began inviting artists to join them on the road and explore interconnected histories and common concerns between the United States and Middle East. Just as presidential contenders hit the campaign trail, CULTURUNNERS followed their ideological and geographical journeys, offering alternative perspectives on the issues being discussed.



In 2014, a group of international artists, scientists and journalists gathered at institutions across America, to discuss alternative lines of communication between the Middle East and United States. Believing in the power of traveling artists to connect communities and navigate complex issues of geographical, political, religious, economic and cultural differences, the idea of CULTURUNNERS was born.

CULTURUNNERS chose as its first major project, a multiyear grassroots artists’ road trip criss-crossing between the Middle East and the United States. In September of 2014, CULTURUNNERS set out in a 34ft 1999 Gulf Stream RV from The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas on a mission to connect ordinary people between the two regions. To date, CULTURUNNERS has traveled over 22,000 miles, teaming up with over 50 artists in 27 states across America. Along the way, we have hosted artists, journalists and curators from the US, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, UK, Turkey, Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Syria and Morocco have participated in programs at The Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX; Louisiana State University, LU; The Middle East Institute in Washington D.C.; ISCP Residencies in Brooklyn, NY; The United Nations, Elizabeth Foundation, Armory Show and Columbia University in Manhattan, NY; MIT in Cambridge, MA; San Diego Art Institute & Low Art Gallery, CA; La Caja Galeria, Mexico and New Mexico State University, NM; Freer & Sackler Gallery at The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

In 2016, CULTURUNNERS was invited by King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture to coordinate and produce a major cultural diplomacy initiative between Saudi Arabia and the United States; incorporating 10 exhibitions across the US, a residency in New York and curated visits for artists, curators and cultural leaders between the two nations.

CULTURUNNERS was launched in 2014 by Edge of Arabia in partnership with Art Jameel and initially co-authored by Stephen Stapleton, Founding Director of Edge of Arabia and The Crossway Foundation and Azra Aksamija, Assistant Professor in MIT's Program in Art, Culture & Technology.

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