A couple of months ago, I happened to see a tweet by The Ara Gallery announcing they were looking for emerging artists in the region to participate in the exhibition “Raising the Stereotype” (an exhibition dedicated to deliver a message from the Arab youth to the rest of the world). The title caught my attention. I decided to go ahead and send in my work. I honestly did not expect to later be asked to send a proposal, but I was! You will find a link to the proposal further down in this post. I sent the proposal, again not expecting to actually get approval and be asked to sign a contract and be part of the exhibition, but I did get approval and I was asked to be part of it!
This has been a very rewarding experience; from finally feeling that a gallery out there is actually interested in what I’ve got to offer as an artist, to the entire process. Before I even wrote the proposal, I wrote We is Terrorists , which really helped me organize my thoughts and figure out a direction for my project. As usual, I had no clear image of what I wanted until the deadline, and a lazy light bulb finally decided to pop into view.
To read the proposal, click on the following link: Raising the Stereotype Proposal
I will be posting pictures from the process in another post, but for now, look at the full view of each image. The details are meant to be seen with a magnifier, so you won’t grasp the concept unless you zoom in. Please note that this is actually a smaller version for the sake of download speed.
“Nice to Meet You” is my reply to anyone who stereotypes Arabs. I show the regular Arabs that Hollywood finds too boring to show in movies. I found beauty in each one. I also showed English and Arabic logos of brands we are all familiar with, stressing on the fact that we have more similarities that we should focus on rather the differences.
I was told that people at the exhibition opening asked “Why the little girl with the gun?” I was shocked to see a scene that demonized an Arab child. I’ve seen men and women with guns in several movies, but I don’t recall seeing a child before. We’ve become conditioned to the image of the Arab man with the gun. I want viewers to question this scene and even feel apalled, just like I did when I first saw it in Dr. Jack Shaheen’s documentary “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.” Watch the video below from 5:00 min, and pay close attention at 7:00.
This is definitely a project I enjoyed working on from A to Z. I finished working on it last minute, therefore everything was last minute, including the shipping. On the day of the opening, at exactly 18:40, the shipment was out for delivery, and it reached the exhibition before the opening was over. Laurel Munshower, the wonderful assistant manager who’s been following up with the whole thing and constantly updating me, sent me this picture. I was in a meeting, checking my phone for updates every few minutes. When I got the tweet, I gasped and my eyes teared up.
Also, Special Thanks to…
Laurel Munshower, Assistant Manager at The Ara Gallery,
Abdullah Kurdi, owner of PHOTOPIA,
Yousef Alshaikh, for all the support & for sending his loupes to Dubai,
Aarnout Helb, founder and curator of Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia, for his feedback when I started working on the project,
Ahmed Darwish, for booking my flight and trying to find me a way to attend the opening,
Dalal Hussein and Jumana Ghouth at Athr Gallery for giving me plenty of useful information,
Eyad Maghazil, for telling me where I could find a carpenter to make a crate for the artwork,
Everyone who believes in me and constantly encourages me,
The wonderful people in my life who gave me more reasons to finish working on this project by simply being themselves,
And last but not least, Dr. Jack Shaheen for his great work on “Reel Bad Arabs”, which inspired the whole project.
My 1st international exhibition. I’m very happy and proud to have my name in there. It’s a dream come true.