The Inside/Outside Gallery presents a new one-woman show by Syrian artist Fadia Afashe. At a time when thousands of lives have been lost in the struggle for Syria's future, Afashe's paintings express the desire for peace and hope.
Artist Fadia Afashe proudly describes herself not only as a painter, but a writer, activist, filmmaker and Syrian patriot. A native of Damascus, Syria, Afashe studied art with the renowned Syrian painter Adnan Abed Al- Rahman and graduated from the Ismail Institute of Art in 2000. While immersing herself in the art world, Afashe also pursed a degree in Criminal Law at the University of Damascus and graduated in 2003. Afashe used her law degree to engage in causes advocating women's rights. She wrote "Suspended" (2011), a documentary about women exposing how the laws of rape in the Arab world leave women unprotected and disenfranchised. At the rise of the Arab Spring in the Middle East, Afashe left Damascus for the United Stated to pursue a fellowship at the Humphrey School for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, which she completed in May 2012.
In her I RISE series, Afashe uses acrylic paint to utter her pain and anxieties against the injustices faced by her and the Syrian people while fighting for freedom under a tyrannical dictatorship. Her paintings speak of emotional displacement, of removing oneself from the physical pain, of finding hope in the midst of terror and agony and seeking refuge in the thought of freedom. These paintings convey the stories of various Syrian citizens and Afashe who suffered the wrath of the ruling government; yet the title, I RISE, suggests survival and metamorphosis.
The gloom reigning over the freedom fighters in Syria is conveyed by the use of dark colors. Silhouettes are defined with long brush strokes to capture the contrast between the dark background representing tyranny and the light representing the soulful cries of the fighters who refuse to be shamed into submission. The final painting in the series, a portrayal of Afashe and her husband, serves as a metaphor for transcendence and unity.
About Nour Douchi and Saed Moujtahed
Born in the province of Al Hasakah, Nour Douchi migrated at age eight to the province and city of Tartous, a coastal city with a mixed makeup of three major sects, Alawi, Sunni, and Christian. She graduated from high school in Tartous, studied law in Aleppo, and left to the United States at the end of 1994 before completing her studies. One of the many reasons she was motivated to leave Syria (aside from a lifelong dream to live a life of freedom) was the daily pondering of her career possibilities after graduation, which looked darker everyday. Pursuing a decent career as a lawyer in Syria is impossible in the presence of a deeply corrupt and paralyzed judicial system. Any lawyer must resort to bribery of every officer of the law, a very degrading prospect in itself.
Shortly after coming to the United States, Douchi started an initiative to defend the human rights of the Palestinian people through university lectures, protest organizing, and later on moved to L.A. and temporarily joined the ADC, where she was active in the anti-war efforts against the war on Iraq and has been interviewed by various local news agencies regarding the various causes. Her educational background is largely in science, with a heavy concentration on the legal and historical with interest in theology, psychology, philosophy and sociology.
Since the fall of the Mubarak regime, Douchi started a web site to help organize for a Syrian campaign for human rights in Syria, which quickly evolved into a site calling and supporting the Syrian revolution. Since then, there have been three main sites, each catering to a different need for the Syrian revolution, the most important of which is a website that tries to launch a campaign to prosecute the Al Assad regime before the International Criminal Court. The combined membership of all the sites as of this moment exceeds 35,000 members and rising.
Saed Moujtahed is an electrical engineer, and founder of Apex Consulting, an engineering consulting firm. He is also an activist who has put the Arab American community on the American political map by volunteering his time to empower Arab-Americans to exercise and protect their rights in the U.S. and to have a strong voice. He has worked tirelessly with Congress to defend the rights of the Arab and Muslim American community against stereotypes and labeling. He successfully campaigned for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for her 2004 election, which she won. Saed Moujtahed has been a Syrian-American activist from the beginning of the Syrian revolution. He established and chaired the Government Relations Committee for the Syrian American Council (SAC) for nearly a year. During the last year, he spent most of his time lobbying the Obama Administration to support the Syrian people in attaining their struggle for freedom. He has traveled to many cities throughout the U.S. to rally the Syrian-American community's support and to motivate them to overcome the psychological fear that most Syrians inherited from this regime for over 48 years. He met with Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, on August 2, 2011, and had many meetings with Mr. Fred Hof and with Ambassador Ford, and still continues to communicate with them. He also hosted both Ambassador Ford and Mr. Hof in several different states and held town hall meetings with the Syrian-American community. Currently, Saed Moujtahed is President of the Syrian Institute for Progress (SIP), an organization that focuses on addressing and supporting the needs of Syrian refugees, in addition to continuing to provide information and advice to the Obama Administration on the dynamic changes of the Syrian revolution and the opposition in order to help find the most suitable and lasting solution to the crisis.
About the gallery
The Inside/Outside Gallery seeks to challenge Orientalist stereotypes by providing the general public with both a physical and online location to view and appreciate art and ideas that are representative of the diversity and evolving cultural identity of the Arab/Muslim world and its growing diaspora.
Click images above to view larger