Museum exhibition stresses regional unity through artwork, illustrations

Students, professors, and university staff explored the underlying cultural ties that connect Levant countries together in an exhibition focused on artwork by artists from Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan organized by the Birzeit University Museum on Saturday, May 18, 2019. 

The exhibition, held until the end of August, showcases paintings held in the museum’s collections by Samia Halaby, a Palestinian abstract painter; Marwan Kassab, a Syrian artist; Etel Adnan, a Lebanese-Syrian artist; and Mona Saudi, a Jordanian-Palestinian sculptor, publisher, and activist.

Featuring paintings by artists who represent divergent and independent schools of thought and artistic identities but are united in their collective sensibility that is informed by life in exile, the exhibition underscores the common cultural heritage in the region and acts as an example to counter attempts at sowing discord in the area.

In his opening remarks, President of Birzeit University Abdullatif Abuhijleh stressed the role of culture as a tool bolstering unity in the area and serving as an answer to the mounting efforts to fragment the region into opposing sectarian, religious, and ethnic groups. 

Abuhijleh, highlighting the university’s efforts to preserve and promote the Palestinian and Arab cultures, lauded the museum as an educational, cultural project that aims to develop and promote artistic expression and preserve Palestinian artwork. 

Nazmi Al Jubeh, director of the Birzeit University Museum, explained that the idea behind the exhibition originated from discussions among the museum’s committee and staff on how best to showcase its collection and introduce it to the Palestinian general population. He added that the collection includes artworks by leading Palestinian, Arab, and international artists, in addition to a unique set of historical amulets and traditional Palestinian costumes.