I was glad to learn about the Jerusalem Fund last year—a Washington, DC-based organisation that aims to foster greater awareness about Palestine, in the United States and abroad, and to ameliorate the lives of Palestinians in Palestine and the diaspora. The Fund accomplishes these goals through three programmes: the Humanitarian Link raises funds to provide relief, medical services, and community development support; the Palestine Center hosts educational and policy analysis lectures and conferences in the DC area and disseminates information online; and the cultural arm features an active art gallery called Gallery Al-Quds, a film series, and musical and literary offerings.
Dagmar Painter, Curator of Gallery Al-Quds, shared more information about her work and introduced me to some of her artists: “I recently installed my 89th show at Gallery Al-Quds, a non-profit art space showcasing contemporary art by mainly Middle East and Arab American artists. I started the gallery 16 years ago, after working in the arts as a critic, writer, and gallerist in the Middle East and Asia for over 25 years. I work with established artists such as Adnan Charara from Detroit, Qais Al-Sindy from San Diego, Helen Zughaib from DC, as well as with emerging artists such as Manal Deeb, and also invite non-Arab artists such as Susanne Slavick, Andrew Ellis Johnson and Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith to multi-artist concept shows.”
Dagmar works with themes like censorship, homeland and the confluence of oppression in different cultures, and invites viewers to see how artists interpret the world.
“Lately I have worked with a number of artists who are interested in the aftermath of the Arab Spring” she continues, “and how it relates to current situations such as the crisis in Syria and Black Lives Matter. I believe artists contribute a vital commentary on contemporary life, and that their work enables people to see the world with perhaps a new set of eyes, a new understanding.
“On my art blog Art is Not What You See (based on a quotation by Degas, ‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see’) I refer to Maupassant, who thought that ‘painting was more advanced than literature because in painting there are so many nuances. In language you don’t have 50 words for pink.’ But there is beauty in the world, too and I like to exhibit work that embraces beauty for its own sake, such as The Eye of the Blossom large scale flower images by Amr Mounib.”
Other goals are to present work, especially from Palestinian artists, who have difficulty in sending their work abroad, especially to the US. In that regard, Dagmar did an all-video show called “Virtual Palestine” which featured short films and slide shows from a number of artists in Gaza, as well as others working on the same theme. And she is working to expand the reach of the gallery, mainly in Paris and London.
Take a look at works from some of the artists below…
Images used with permission.