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Richard “Mac” McKinney, Bibi Bahrami, Josh Seftel, and Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary

When we are blinded by anger, what helps us recognize the damage our rage wreaks on both ourselves and those around us? Ex-marine Richard “Mac” McKinney developed an anger fueled by lived experiences fighting in Afghanistan post-9/11, followed by fighting PTSD with little support from the military once discharged. A screening of the short documentary Stranger at the Gate reveals how Mac’s anger nearly drove him to commit atrocities against a local Muslim population, and how the simple kindness of that very community—embodied by community leader Bibi Bahrami—transformed his anger into reverence. Emotions researcher Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary explores how anger obscures the clarity of how we are all connected and need connection in order to move forward in life. They are joined by filmmaker Joshua Seftel on the power that storytelling has to heal.

Ticket holders have the opportunity to join author and performer Kevin Townley for a gallery tour prior to the theater program at 6:00 PM or directly following the program at 8:30 PM. Tours are 35 minutes and will explore the permanent collection and the interactive Mandala Lab installation which inspired the Brainwave: Emotion talk series. The program will examine how both sacred and secular art can help us to unlock the wild wisdom of human emotion.

Please note that this event may be filmed or recorded.

About the speakers

Richard “Mac” Mckinney is an ex U.S. marine, who after 25 years of service, returned home to Muncie, Indiana. Consumed with rage, Mac developed a plot to bomb the local Islamic Center. After entering the mosque, and experiencing utter kindness from the community, Mac managed to transform his hatred to love, and converted to Islam. Mac went on to become the president of the Muncie Islamic Center for two years, and is now an active community leader. He has spoken across the country and serves as a Skills Coach at the largest community mental health center in Indiana.

Bibi Bahrami was born and raised in Behsood, Afghanistan. She came to Muncie Indiana in 1986 as a refugee during the Soviet war in Afghanistan to join her husband, Dr. Saber Bahrami. In 2002, she founded and became president of her own nonprofit organization, AWAKEN (Afghan Women’s And Kids’ Education & Necessities), in order to give back to the Afghan women and children she left behind. In 2021, with the increased influx of refugees, Bibi focused on helping Afghan refugees resettle and thrive in Muncie Delaware county. The organization MARRC has provided six months of urgent support to 115 people and 35 families with rent, utilities, jobs, and many other resources. Bibi is president of Islamic Center of Muncie. Her 35 years of community activism was acknowledged by the Vivian Conley Award for Humanitarian Service, the Indiana Women of Achievement Award, Ball State’s International Development Award, and the Rotary VIVA Award for Volunteerism.

Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, PhD, is an emotion scientist, Director of the Emotion Regulation Lab, and professor in the Psychology Department at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Future Tense launched at the Rubin Museum this past May. As Founder and CSO of Wise Therapeutics, she translates neuroscience and cognitive therapy techniques into gamified, clinically validated digital therapeutics for mental health. Her work in mindfulness-based stress reduction in at-risk youth is the topic of the documentary film Changing Minds at Concord High, a film first shown at the Rubin in 2013. Dr. Dennis-Tiwary has appeared on stage at the Rubin for six previous Brainwave sessions with Congressman Tim Ryan, the astronaut Scott Parazynski, martial artist Shi Yan Ming, mindfulness entrepreneur Rohan Gunatillake, artists Candy Chang and James A. Reeves, and former Texas Senator Wendy Davis. She writes for Psychology Today, and has been featured throughout the media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, The Today Show, and Bloomberg Television.

Joshua Seftel is a New York City-based Emmy Award-winning director. His films include Taking on the Kennedys, Peabody-finalist Secret Life of Muslims, IDA Award-winning The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano, and the political satire War, Inc. starring John Cusack, Marisa Tomei, Hilary Duff, and Ben Kingsley.

About Our Guide

Kevin Townley is a writer, filmmaker, actor, singer, and meditation instructor. His film and television work include appearances in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Men in Black III, The Detour, and Law & Order. He has written extensively for the Waterwell theater company and for Rookie magazine. He has also led hundreds of art tours in museums across the country including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and the Rubin Museum of Art. His first book, Look, Look, Look, Look Again: Buddhist Wisdom Reflected in 26 Artists is published by Lionheart Press and available at the Rubin Museum shop. (Members’ price: $27.39 incl. tax)

Lead support for Brainwave is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Major support is provided by Gerry Ohrstrom with additional support provided by Cheryl Henson.

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Tickets: $25

Member Tickets: $18.75 (25% discount)