“Art is love and love is peace—art is the international language to convey a message,” Syrian painter Rehab Bitar told an IPI-MENA audience at the May 15th opening of an exhibition of artwork conveying messages of peace. Ms. Bitar, the Head of Peace and Culture Bridges Organization in the United States, was one of seventeen participating female artists in the “Women in Art for Peace” exhibition in Manama.
Other featured international artists included Marwa Rashid Al Khalifa (Bahrain), Karima Ben Otman (Libya), Miranda Rumina (Slovenia), Cezara Kolesnik (Belgium), Fatma Abdullah Lootah (UAE), Alexandra Nechita (USA), Alham Ali (Yemen), Unni Askeland (Norway), Cassandra J. Wainhouse (France), Hripsime Margaryan (Armenia), Eleonora Romanescu (Republic of Moldova), Mona Chouk (Tunisia), and Wedad Al-Bakr (Saudi Arabia).
The “Women in Art for Peace” exhibition adds to IPI-MENA’s cultural outreach activities to raise awareness about the importance of women’s participation in peacebuilding and peacekeeping. The initiative aims to encourage female artists to participate actively in the culture of peace.
“These inspiring women are the real ambassadors of peace—capable of conveying the message and the culture of peace through their artistic creation,” Nejib Friji, IPI-MENA Director, said in his opening remarks. “We are encouraged by their gathering in Bahrain.”
A large audience of diplomats, government officials, artists, private sector representatives, members of civil society and media attended the event.
Ms. Al-Bakr, a Saudi painter, peace advocate and co-founder of “Women in Art for Peace,” said, “Art is the strongest force in bringing people together. Let us celebrate it. Art serves to unite rather than divide.”
A reception gala followed the event and was attended by Sheikh Rashid Al-Khalifa, Honorary President of the Bahrain Fine Arts Association. Touring the exhibition with Mr. Friji, Shaikh Rashed, also a painter, interacted with the participating female artists. “There is nothing worse than families suffering from catastrophes and conflicts,” he said. “Eradicating such inhumane actions is the main goal.”
Sheikh Rashid added that the “Women In Art For Peace” exhibition should spread peace awareness. “It is very noble,” he said.
Shaikha Hind bint Salman Al Khalifa, Chairperson of the Mother and Children Care Association, praised the exhibition’s laudable goal, saying, “I am very impressed that there is a lot of movement towards the culture of peace. Women who are participating have the potential to be leaders.”
The main event was concluded with Mr. Friji expressing his sincere gratitude to the female artists and his aspiration to see this initiative create momentum whereby women play a more meaningful role in conflict prevention, resolution and in post-war peacebuilding. “In that regard, women are social, cultural and political leaders,” he said.
The exhibition was hosted in collaboration with Europe’s Art Gallery and Artwed, and will be open to the public from 9 am-5 pm on May 16-18, and May 21-22, 2017 at the IPI-MENA offices.
“Women in Art for Peace” video (Facebook)