Arab Art From a Woman’s Perspective: Changing the Narrative and Redefining Art

Arab Art From a Woman’s Perspective: Changing the Narrative and Redefining Art

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Women are many things; empathetic, strong, caring, and passionate. But what we love most about them is their creativity and their innate ability to strive in anything and everything they put their mind to. 

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we at Marsoum Art Collective have profiled five groundbreaking women that have redefined what it means to be an artist. Using their emotions and unique life experiences to drive stories from around the world, these five female storytellers chose art as their platform to shed a spotlight on tales of hope and social justice. 

 

Eman Haram: Beyond the Horizon 

An artwork by Eman Haram.

An artwork by Eman Haram.

Perhaps one of Eman Haram’s most defining qualities is her multicultural identity. Born in Syria to Palestinian parents, Eman Haram grew up in Beirut, later moved to the United States before relocating to Canada, and then splitting her time between Canada and Jordan. Eman Haram is an artist who has seen her fair share of the world and translates her experiences and creativity into visual imagery. 

The multicultural artist deals with various themes centered around the stories she has heard, seen, or been part of. Merging emotions with intellect, Eman Haram brings to life works of art representing amnesia, oblivion, and fond memories. 

Despite the passage of time, Haram proceeds in bringing Palestine and its struggle to light, allowing her images to speak of a bleeding country that holds infinite meaning to her. Eman tirelessly works to "disrupt paradigms that reduce complex and interconnected realms to mutually exclusive worlds”.

Experience Eman’s “In Search of Vanished Time” series here.

Heba Al Akkad: At Full Brightness 

Heba Al Akkad

Heba Al Akkad

In spite of the war looming over her homeland, Syrian artist Heba Al Akkad persists in depicting what’s happening through vibrant colors. In contrast with the darkness, which typically governs paintings and artworks of war, Heba Al Akkad uses bright and vivid colors even as she tells stories of torment and hope.   

Dabbling with various forms of art over the years like photography, sculpting, and painting, Al Akkad has found solace in collages that have been a dominant format for her art. Drawing inspiration from her surroundings and fighting against injustice through art, Heba makes sure to place her moments of self-reflection at the core of every piece.

Bathe in the light of Heba’s vibrant colors here.

Orouba Dieb: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

Oroubah Dieb at an exhibition in Paris, France.

Oroubah Dieb at an exhibition in Paris, France.

“I want everyone to know about my people’s struggles so that we can begin working together on easing their suffering.” - Oroubah Dieb

Harboring agony, loss, and sorrow following tragic incidents in Syria, artist Orouba Dieb felt momentarily dazed as she found herself lost in a spiral of pain and grief. With the knowledge of other displaced individuals around the world, who watched their countries crumble and fall due to the war, Dieb decided to channel all that she felt and turn it into art. 

Despite relocating to Paris, Orouba Dieb never left her country behind. Instead, she maintains her deep connection to her roots and showcases it throughout all her paintings. Orouba Dieb wove themes of exile, love, and memory in her work, depicting the poignant stories of Syrian refugees that share the same pain. Dieb’s aim wasn't only to paint a picture of the horrific tragedy bestowed upon Syrians worldwide, but to also highlight and spread the healing power of art.

Discover Orouba’s art up close here.

Bente Christensen-Ernst: In the Eye of the Beholder

Bente next to an artwork of hers at MESH, the signature restaurant of the W Amman hotel.

Bente next to an artwork of hers at MESH, the signature restaurant of the W Amman hotel.

You might be surprised to find a Danish artist among the list, but there’s a reason Bente makes it here. Christensen-Ernst has long considered herself an “Easternized Scandinavian” with an affinity for the Middle East, particularly Turkey, where she spends most of her time.

Bente Christensen-Ernst’s work is not for the weak-minded. At first glance, her modest paintings may confuse you to the point where you struggle to comprehend how such works are considered groundbreaking. However, here lies the secret of Bente’s success: there’s more to the painting than meets the eye. 

Bente’s work, which is a testimony of what she sees, aims to challenge the mind and allow it to decipher the hidden meaning at the heart of each piece. 

With her self-proclaimed hyperrealism, the Danish painter has a habit of creating a dark background in her paintings to keep the focus on the subject upfront. For example, an art piece from her “Metaphors” series, portrays a hot pepper intertwined with a sweet pepper. In true Bente Christensen-Ernst fashion, she drew inspiration from what she found around her in her chosen home of Antakya, Turkey. However, who could’ve guessed that this painting represents love? Young Love, the piece in question, depicts the strong emotions that bind two souls together despite the differences between them.

Dive deep and experience Bente’s larger-than-life art here.


Ghadeer Saeed: Alls Fair in Love and War 

Bente Christensen-Ernst and Ghadeer Saeed in Ghadeer’s Amman studio in Jabal Al Weibdeh.

Bente Christensen-Ernst and Ghadeer Saeed in Ghadeer’s Amman studio in Jabal Al Weibdeh.

Another demonstration of a multicultural artist who delves deeply in her work of art is Ghadeer Saeed. Ghadeer, who was born in Libya to Jordanian parents, studied in Saudi Arabia before relocating to Jordan. 

Adopting a philosophical approach and incorporating her search for a deeper meaning to her work, Ghadeer Saeed intends to depict war, love, and chaos as witnessed through her multi-cultural identity. Her journey through the Middle East has equipped her with solid ground to base her artwork on: stories of sorrow, hope, shifts, and belonging. With a background in architecture, Saeed implements unconventional techniques to highlight the brutal reality of the Middle East from an emotional and a logical perspective. 

Thematically, her work is emotionally, politically, and spiritually charged. For according to Ghadeer Saeed, “When it comes to emotions, art proves to be a two-way street; it both demands and provides a deep understanding.”

Zoom in on Ghadeer’s captivating digital collages here.

Last But Not Least, All The Women In Our Community

To every woman reading this piece, we hope you keep on making waves and raising your voice across all fields as we’re anxiously waiting to hear your stories in hopes of sharing them with our Marsoum community!

Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month to all the women (especially those in art) across the world!

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Originally Published: March 7, 2021

Written by: Sabine Faress

Sabine Faress is a creative English copywriter and storyteller, who believes that art in all its forms has the power to change the world. An aesthete and an avid reader; if she isn’t seeking the next big adventure, then you’ll find her cozying up with a book and a warm cup of tea.

Take a peek at some of Sabine's work here.

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