As the world’s attention focuses on respecting women’s rights, and with a critical need to develop understanding and encourage friendship between the peoples of the Middle East and West, an East-West bridge-building exhibition under the title “I AM” an exhibition of Middle Eastern Women Artists comes to London from Amman, Jordan. I AM, organised by CARAVAN, a peacebuilding arts NGO, showcases the insights and experiences of Middle Eastern women as they confront issues of culture, religion and social reality in a rapidly changing world, both in the Middle East and West.
“I hope that as this exhibition opens in cities worldwide, and people look through this window into our lives, they see what I see”- Her Majesty Queen Rania
Under the Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the I AM exhibition global tour premiered from 3 May – 14 June 2017 in Amman, Jordan at the National Gallery of Fine Arts. The exhibition is now showcased in London at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square from 2 July-20 August 2017, before touring the USA through the end of 2018, premiering in Washington, D.C. at the Katzen Arts Center of the American University.
Designed to address stereotypes and challenge misconceptions of the “other”, the I AM exhibition is a visual celebration of the crucial role that Middle Eastern women play as guardians of peace, celebrating their strengths and rich and diverse contributions in the enduring global quest for a more harmonious and peaceful future. The I AM exhibition, through the lens of Middle Eastern women, highlights what women contribute toward healing our world, because of their inherent connection to the sanctity of life, and their ability to nurture and protect it, thereby inspiring a legacy of harmony.
Guest curated by Janet Rady, a specialist in Middle Eastern contemporary art, I AM features 31 acclaimed women artists of Middle Eastern heritage from a broad geographic area of 12 countries. For the exhibition, each artist was invited to create one original two or three-dimensional work in any still art medium for this exhibition: painting, drawing, collage, photography, digital art, mixed media, and sculpture, showcasing the crucial role that Middle Eastern women make to keeping hope alive and striving towards a more peaceful future.About the I AM exhibition’s global tour, Her Majesty Queen Rania writes, “I hope that as this exhibition opens in cities worldwide, and people look through this window into our lives, they see what I see — what I’ve always known. That the people of the Middle East are as warm and welcoming as they are generous and open-minded. And that, today, perhaps more than ever, they are eager to forge friendships beyond their own borders in the name of a stronger, more harmonious global family.”
Additionally, the I AM exhibition focuses on how fundamentally essential the contribution of Middle Eastern women is in freeing our world from the sectarian strife of any kind.
The phrase “I AM” is significant to the Abrahamic faiths. The words of divine self-identification, “I AM”, are familiar to Christians and Muslims to represent God/Allah, therefore serving as an interreligious bridge. The phrase “I AM” remind us, regardless of creed, of all being equal and one. Above all, this exhibition celebrates the diversity of human expression, while also asserting the common priorities that all persons seek and treasure.
The I AM exhibition is based on CARAVAN’s experience of the arts being one of the most effective mediums to enhance understanding, bring about respect, enable sharing, and deepen the friendship between the faiths and peoples of the Middle East and West. As Queen Rania writes in the I AM exhibition catalogue’s Foreword, “For isn’t that the joy of art — To be a language that transcends borders and barriers. To be the consummate diplomat, traveling the world overcoming race, religion, and rancor, building bridges of respect and understanding between us all, North, South, East and West.”
Words: Paul-Gordon Chandler Photos Courtesy of the artists and author © Artlyst 2017
For more information on the, I AM exhibition, see: www.oncaravan.org/i-am-exhibition