Art in the service of hope

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

You still have time to get over to Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest and see the exhibit of Palestinian art called "Room for Hope" which is sponsored by Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and a U.S. non-profit organization called Bright Stars of Bethlehem which supports the ministries of that congregation.  The exhibit will run through Feb. 4.

Three things about the exhibit are noteworthy. 1) It's good art.  It is the result of a juried call for art from artists living in West Bank, Gaza and part of Israel.  2) It includes work by both Muslims and Christians.  3)The art is strikingly non-political.

The brochure Bright Stars of Bethlehem printed for the exhibit is entitled Hope Is What We Do!  Each work hanging in the church's atrium is accompanied by a page of text which includes a bit of the artist's biography, a quote from the artist and/or some explanation of the work's meaning.  The following testify that the artists included in the exhibit do focus on hope as an empowering force for the Palestinian people.

Dream in the Sky, By Sami Sholi, Charcoal on paper - $170

Love follows hope flying in the sky….As we are reaching higher to meet our dreams there peacefully

Sami is from a village near Bethlehem and he is 31 years old. He studied fine art in Palestine and is carrying a simple human message to all who sees his work.

A Family Under Moonlight, By: Mohammad Mohalwis, Mixed media on canvas - $1300

A displaced Palestinian family in 1948, walking outside their village under the moonlight having hope to come back one day.

Mohammad is from Jerusalem where he studied fine art in Alquds University-abu dees and graduated in 2009. He participated in different exhibitions and workshops and has worked as an art teacher.  For the past three years, he has been working on the restoration of the interior decoration at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Forgiveness, By: Yousef Katalo, Oil on Canvas - $1620

"In this artwork, I am trying to be this human for all human beings, the Holy Land in this loving human. Considering that human beings are kind, loving and forgiving, despite religious and ethnic bias" – Yousef Katalo – Hebron

From the Holy Land, he is dedicated to art; he draws for humanity with all the meaning of his words. his life is art and his art is life, so life will be full of love and hope.

Olive Harvest, By: Taleb Dwiek, Mixed Media - $2700

Taleb Dweik is indeed one of the most established Palestinian and Arab artist alive. He has exhibited in countless prestigious international exhibitions in major cities around the world including, Tokyo, Cairo, Cadrid, Bonn, Washington D.C., Toronto, Sharjah, Dubai, Ammon, Jerusalem and many more.  Despite the fact that Dweik lives in Jerusalem, a city that if the pinnacle of tension and indeed violence, his paintings are so vibrant with their color and full of life and joy.  It is as if he uses his wild artistic imagination and inner child to project an image of Jerusalem that is not only peaceful, but it also full of bliss – how things ought to be, not how things are. 

The eight works of art in the exhibit range in price from $170 for a charcoal on paper piece to $2700 for a mixed media work, but of course, you can view the exhibit for free any time the church is open or attend the special reception this Friday evening, Jan. 25 from 7:30 till 9:00.

Call 366-6900 for more information.

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