What Women Want: Cultural Arts Review

Posted on October 10, 2012 by


What Women Want: Cultural Arts Review

Michaela Rice

Project presented: write about religious art. What do I do? Type religious art into Google. What do I find? A whole lot of nothing. So I changed my search into “Middle Eastern modern art”, hoping to come across some touching, religious-related art work to write a blog post about. What did I find this time? Women. Women were everywhere, they were the subjects of paintings, they were the artists making controversial statements, or subjugated in photographs. Other paintings such as this one  were explained to be making a statement of individuality.

Mohannad Orabi. It’s No Longer About Me. 2012

Other paintings, such as this one below featured in the Dubai Art Fair this year, makes clear statements about what the world thinks of women, and what women think of themselves. This piece of art work I must say is my favorite. Her body language and her red, gang-like scarf portray revolution. Maybe she is revolting against the expectations women have to wear such things as the undergarments she is holding, like work by Nadia Kaabi-Linke, a Tunisian artist,

who tackles the thorny question of the clothes many women in the region are forced to wear. The Arab Spring has led many to feel the need to speak out, and many took that opportunity in the art fair to do so. It is also where the women, so often characterized as mute and oppressed, found their voice through art.

Orthodox Islam has been historically known to consider women inferior to men; physically, morally and intellectually, along with other believers of Abrahamic religions. Within the past few years, France and other countries have begun to speak out against oppression of Muslim women. These religious beliefs are often thought to be slowing down social and moral progress throughout the world. Women “may not be able to vote, drive a car or wear what they like, but there is nothing to stop them from making art at home”, says Al Badry, an Iraqi-born photojournalist. Women artists in Saudi Arabia are now estimated to outnumber the men.Not only are women artists using art as a form of speech, male artists are also focusing on women. Some, like Al Badry are trying to show “that these women are not weak and oppressed as stereotyped by society -they overcame adversity, war and culture shock to raise their families in new countries” (“Women’s Rights as Black and White: American Muslim in the Arts.” Huffington Post. 09/28/2012 ). His work was displayed in an Iraqi refugee exhibit this year.Art is continually utilized as a form of freedom of expression. Here, women and men are fighting for the equality of women using art as a pathway to make changes in the times of controversy.

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