October 19, 2015 – Art Jameel, in partnership with Edge of Arabia and the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN, has announced a multi-faceted initiative at the United Nations Headquarters In New York. OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE aims to draw attention to the urgent issue of cultural heritage protection, while advancing the equal representation of women in the Middle East.
The launch of this long-term program will include an art exhibition (16 – 27 November) of two commissioned murals that celebrate the hundreds-year old tradition of house-painting by skilled female artisans from the village of Rijal Alma in Saudi Arabia. The installation also includes a presentation to highlight Saudi Arabia’s bid to recognize this historic village as an official UNESCO World Heritage site.
Organized in collaboration with multiple sectors of the United Nations, the launch event features a reception and dedicated panel discussion on Friday 20 November, organized by The Middle East Institute (Washington D.C.) and highlighting the crucial role Asiri women artists have played in the composition and archiving of their local history. OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE celebrates the creativity and determination of women artists who play an extraordinary role in preserving the cultural identity of their communities.
OUR MOTHERS’ HOUSE features artwork by woman artisans in the Asir region located in the Southwest of Saudi Arabia, home to one of the country’s most prominent cultural and archeological sites. The artisans of Asir are an example of the endangered role of women within rural areas of contemporary Saudi society; traditionally at the forefront of recording and sharing histories, in one generation women in remote regions of Saudi Arabia have been marginalized within their communities.
OUR MOTHERS’ HOUSE seeks to promote artistic production, as well as gender equality and the empowerment of women in the Middle East, core missions of Art Jameel and Edge of Arabia. Program advisers include three Saudi artists: Arwa Alnaemi, whose work often explores the relationship of women to larger Saudi Society; Ahmed Mater, best known for his explorations of the Islamic culture and trends of consumerism and transformation in the region; and Fatimah Jaber, an Asiri house painter and founder of Fatimah Museum in Abha, Additional support is provided by Ali Moghawi, an Asiri cultural historian and member of the Rijal Alma UNESCO World Heritage Bid.
Our Mothers’ House: Cultural Preservation and the Empowerment of Women Artists in Southern Saudi Arabia is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the UN, organized by Art Jameel, produced by Edge of Arabia and supported by The Middle East Institute in Washington DC.
Art Jameel, one of Community Jameel’s Initiatives, fosters and promotes contemporary art and creative entrepreneurship across the MENAT region. In partnership with arts organizations worldwide, Art Jameel is developing two arts centres and cultural exchange programmes to encourage networking and knowledge sharing.
Art Jameel is the founding partner of Edge of Arabia, The Crossway Foundation, Jeddah Art Week, and The Archive. Community Jameel was established in 2003 to promote positive social change, and has been undertaking this through the establishment of long-term partnerships with international institutions, and the creation of initiatives in the fields of Job Creation, Global Poverty Alleviation, Arts & Culture, Education & Training, Health & Social, and Food & Water Security. More information on Community Jameel’s considerable set of initiatives can be found online at www.cjameel.org.
Edge of Arabia is an independent, non-profit arts initiative, which connects artists and cultural communities between the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region, Europe and United States. It is the vision of a group of British and Saudi artists who met in the mountains of South-West Saudi Arabia in 2003 and shared a common desire “to empower and mobilize artists on the periphery of the international art world and outside of the mainstream.” More information can be found online at www.edgeofarabia.com.