Our Mothers’ House: United Nations, New York

16 Nov 2015 - 27 Nov 2015
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017

The Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN, in partnership with Art Jameel developed a multi-faceted initiative at the United Nations Headquarters In New York. Our Mother's House aimed 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 included an art exhibition (16 - 27 November) of three commissioned murals that celebrated the hundreds-year old tradition of house-painting by skilled female artisans from the village of Rijal Alma in Saudi Arabia. The installation also aimed 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 featured a reception and dedicated panel discussion 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 celebrated the creativity and determination of women artists who play an extraordinary role in preserving the cultural identity of their communities.

Our Mother's House featured 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.

The project sought to promote artistic production, as well as gender equality and the empowerment of women in the Middle East. Program advisers included 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 was provided by Ali Moghawi, an Asiri cultural historian and member of the Rijal Alma UNESCO World Heritage Bid.

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