It is almost 4 weeks since I left Israel. But, in spite of these who blog daily, for me, here as in Umm el-Fahem, living life gets in the way of recording life.
Yet there is so much that I didn’t mention, and too much that I mentioned simply in passing.
Soon after arriving home I was invited to write an article about my experience at the gallery for the on-line newsletter PEACE X PEACE (http://www.peacexpeace.org/2011/11/art-in-the-arab-sector/) which some of you have already read. It is a summary of my time at the gallery.
I am proud to have stood with the citizens of Umm el-Fahem as a participant in the October 21st Demonstration Against Violence to demand that the Israeli police do their job to enforce the law in Umm el-Fahem as throughout Israel. To quote my wise friend Amal Elsana Alhjooj, “There is no room for ‘cultural tolerance’ when it comes to violence.”
Many people have asked me to describe what I did day-to-day at the Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery as it was not a residency to make my art. My responsibilities were developed in consultation with Said and Lilli based on my pre-art professional experience and my artistic practice. I did whatever was needed and in general my work encompassed: interaction with the gallery’s art teachers -- from presenting my work to brainstorming about their work with children; making use of my organizational skills, particularly efforts to further the documentation of the collection, and networking with external groups, gallery visitors, and, now back in the U.S., through my involvement with the newly formed FRIENDS of the Umm el-Fahem…. association.
I do not want to give short shrift to the art on exhibit in the gallery. It is professional, engaging, and interesting. The current exhibition “Personal Story” is the presentation of four artists' stories through different artistic mediums, as narrated by three curators.
I have mentioned the ceramic sculptures on the roof by Jewish-Israeli artist, Rafi Munz. The work is whimsical, imaginative, and unusual in the environment of Umm el-Fahem. It was a delight to watch visitors interact with the pieces in the roof-top gallery space and it was wonderful nourishment for peoples' ( adults' and children's) imaginations. Here Munz's piece seems to howl at the full moon:
The other three artists are Arab-Israeli, and like all of our stories theirs are both particular and universal.
Fatima Abu Rumi's skillful work retells a difficult personal journey. Her self portraits and those of her father are exquisite paintings of a moving and politically and socially charged story. Here Fatima puts a finishing touch on one of her pieces:
Nidal Gabarin studied in the former Soviet Union. Many of his paintings are urban landscapes with an impressionistic slant and others outdoor scenes not found in his home of Umm el-Fahem.
Ammar Younis' photographs present us with more than we can see in the image before us. He offers a perspective steeped in pride of place and history.
In addition to his prize-winning documentary photographs and videos he is an amazing teacher.
The gallery's first floor houses Memory of Place, an exhibit of archival photos and film footage of the Wadi Ara region. The images and documents offer an historical view that is expanded by photographic portraits of today's elderly citizens of Umm el-Fahem. These photographs have been taken by both Jewish - and Arab-Israeli photographers. Complementing this exhibit is the gallery's significant archival project to collect the history of the Wadi Ara area through video recorded interviews of its elders, some who have passed their hundredth birthdays.
From time to time in the coming year I may post about activities of the FRIENDS of Umm el-Fahem Museum of Contemporary Art.
And I hope that if you make a trip to Israel you will plan stop by the gallery for a couple of hours (if you let me know I will make the connection for you before you leave).
In closing here now, I will let the images below speak. And I am always be happy to answer any questions that you might have (e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The kitchen in our (i.e., the volunteers') apt. on the gallery's roof. Wait until you see what is under the tablecloth
It's a light box! showing a composite of scenes from the city of Umm el-Fahem.
NISPED Tour for Women in the Media of the Bedouin Women's Projects.
A two-image digression:
A two-image digression:
brag) and her crew came to the gallery to collect me for a half day in Haifa. Yona Yahav, Mayor of Haifa, who Vivian and I worked with many moons ago, to V's left. To her right: her mother Roslyn, her husband Lewie Zeigen, son Yonatan and Maayan, son Chen and Ori. Now back to Umm el-Fahem:
Members of Sharikat Hayat (Women of Valor), a project of the Municipality of Umm el-Fahem in partnership with the JDC (the "Joint"), met with gallery staff on October 26th to talk about their efforts toward economic empowerment for women, learn about the gallery, and plan what they might do together. Fifteen of the women will now be participating in a weekly workshop at the gallery. (On the walls are images depicting the winning design for the future Umm el-Fahem Museum of Contemporary Art.)
10/29 Artist teachers Tamra and Orguan make sheep to give to each child as a gift for the coming holiday, symbolic of the sheep traditionally roasted by each family for the Feast of Eid-Ul-Adha*.
* re http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Adha: "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid" is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isma'il) as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. The meat is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy.
Saleh Sharkawi (whose family photos can be seen in the archival exhibit on the gallery's first floor) -- coffee grinder or drummer?
October 30th, Said and the gallery, hosting the visiting ALLMEP Executive Director, bring together representatives of organizations in Wadi Ara engaged in cross-border or shared society work.
Assalamu alaikum. Shalom v'l'hitraot.