Saturday, January 21, 2006

Ashes to Art: The Iraqi Phoenix

To art lovers, here's something for you:

NEW YORK -- Tattered book covers salvaged from the Iraqi Academy of Fine Arts and wax sketches of U.S. bombs blowing up Baghdad are going on exhibit in New York this month in a rare U.S. exhibition of Iraqi artists.

"Ashes to Art: The Iraqi Phoenix" reflects the turbulence in the nation since the March 2003 bombing of Baghdad.

This undated image supplied by the Pomegranate Gallery in New York shows a piece of art by Qasim Sabti which he made from book covers salvaged from the Iraqi Academy of Fine Arts after the U.S. bombing of Baghdad. The exhibit "Ashes to Art: The Iraqi Phoenix" will be on display at the Pomegranate Gallery from Jan. 19 through Feb. 22.

The flames referred to in the title were the reality of those closest to the attack, and nearly all the works include a charred element, said Peter Hastings Falk, curator of the show at SoHo's Pomegranate Gallery, running Jan. 19 to Feb. 22.

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One of my Iraqi friends traveled to New York to attend the show. He wrote about his experience in an e-mail:

I attended a fascinating art exhibit opening in SOHO in NYC last night. It included work by a variety of artists from the numerous religious and ethic backgrounds in Iraq, including Arab and Kurd, Christian, Jewish and Moslem, Sunni and Shiaa.

The Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations gave a talk. Of course, there were many people of all cultures attending, including a large number of Iraqi Jews. It was a fascinating evening. It was great to talk with people from so many different backgrounds, yet each one cared and was concerned about Iraq'’s future. One of the artists was Esam Pasha, the grandson of Nuri Saeed, the former Prime Minister of Iraq.

The sponsor was Oded Halahmy, an Iraqi Jewish artist, who has a passion and mission to promote understanding between those of different faiths. He has tried to use art to bring people together.

On his web site, Oded Halahmy states the mission of "Oded Halahmy Foundation For The Arts" is as follows:

The Oded Halahmy Foundation for the arts is a non-profit cultural organization created to fund original artistic expressions of peace and hope in the Middle East, the United States and around the world.

"May there be peace in Iraq, the Middle East, and around the world".

Oded Halahmy

It's beautiful to see Iraqis come together to show their artwork. It's very hopeful. I still have faith in Iraq, just in case you wondered. :-)

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