Graduating high school art students from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, India, Ireland, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, donated artwork to an IPI MENA “Youth in Art for Peace” exhibition organized in collaboration with Saudi Artist Wedad Al Bakr, Founder of Artwed and peace advocate.
In his opening remarks, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji stressed IPI’s vision for youth in peacemaking and multilateral policymaking. He called for greater involvement of youth in leadership positions for innovation in the field of peacemaking, and as a deterrence against growing dissatisfaction, violence, and extremism among youth.
Ms. Al Bakr outlined art as a means of intercultural communication, as well a tool for promoting inclusivity, tolerance, and peace. Noting the diversity of youth who convened at IPI MENA as a testament to the unifying power of art, she called on the young artists to build bridges and cultural connections in advocating for peace.
H.E. Selim Ghariani, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the Kingdom of Bahrain, remarked that “it is important to devote time to the initiatives of youth and peace.” He expressed a desire to see concerned players at the regional and international level adopt this initiative and showcase youth artwork.
Noting the “high density of artists, art movements and galleries in Manama” H.E. Kai Boeckmann, the Ambassador of Republic of Germany to the Kingdom of Bahrain discussed the potential for youth in art in the Kingdom, saying, “I welcome the voices of youth, especially speaking on issues such as environmental sustainability and peace, as these are issues that we must tackle together as an international community.”
H.E. Kemal Demirciler, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the Kingdom of Bahrain, praised the youth for actively taking up their roles as peace advocates.
The young artists then gave statements on their works, how they were inspired to create them, and what peace means in their artwork.
During the student presentations, Majd Sattam Algosaibi of Ibn Khuldoon School (IKNS) showcased her acrylic painting “Ummah.” Discussing the community’s role in fostering inclusivity, tolerance, and understanding, she hopes to portray in her work “that no one is superior to another and no one deserves more because of authority or race.”
Describing his acrylic painting “Pure Youth,” Hamza Rahma of IKNS School explained that his subject symbolizes the trauma and suffering experienced by children in war and conflict zones. He hoped his audience would assess the sensations and effects of war and thus be inspired to work towards peace.
Stirred by “the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, inequality, stereotypes and war” Juman Al Ghalayini of IKNS School entitled her artwork “Salam” (which means “peace” in Arabic) with the aim to increase awareness. She purposefully detached the letters of the word “salam” in her Arabic calligraphy to symbolize the unachieved peace today. However, she contrasted this negativity through the use of brightly colored, dried flowers as a sign of hope for sustainable peace.
Ahmed Dadabai of Riffa Views International School stated art as a means of storytelling, and a way for him to express peaceful perspectives on the world. His piece depicted Islamic symbols showing “religion as a force of calmness and light, in contrast to its common representation in some media.”
Hana Aysha Noor of Ibn Al Haytham Islamic School focused on discrimination as an obstacle to sustainable peace. She highlighted the role that Nelson Mandela, played in challenging hatred, building understanding and tolerance; core values of durable peace.
Created through a collaboration of six student artists from St. Christopher’s School, the layered and multi-technique artwork “Peace in Sight” depicted the word peace in many languages, including braille. The piece symbolizes the use of art as a communicative tool, often expressing more than words, stated the artists.