The children could not believe their eyes when they first stepped into Al-Hoash gallery and saw the amount of art displayed neatly at the “My Space My Inspiration” exhibition.
“I was very surprised when I walked in,” exclaimed 11-year-old Jibreel Yousef. “It’s bigger than I expected and packed with kids! I’m very proud of this exhibition.”
Visitors young and old were overwhelmed by the beautiful, colorful paintings and art work by kids of various ages from Jerusalem and nearby suburbs. The exhibit was the product of five workshops conducted at eight different places over the past two years by Al-Hoash gallery, in collaboration with various artists and in partnership with local cultural and youth organizations.
Painting is a real passion for young Jibreel. He jumped at the opportunity to take an art course at his school in Al-Izariyah, an underprivileged area separated from Jerusalem by the wall. He says he most enjoyed being exposed to different mediums and techniques like color gradation, still-life sketching and collage.
But, the children said they really welcomed the chance to meet new people outside of their schools and to work closely with them in groups. Through the group sessions, they learned a lot about team-work, respect and exchanging ideas. The children of Shufat refugee camp who had participated in earlier workshops were not able to visit the final exhibit because of travel restrictions to Jerusalem but their art work was prominently displayed.
Many themes were explored in the workshops, such as space and environment, which helped the youngsters explore and express their fears, beliefs and dreams freely through art. Walls were a recurring theme and so was a sense of somberness, especially when capturing the idea of “space” in its physicality. But there was also a strong sense of identity, mixed with joy and pride.
“I have been working with Al-Hoash Gallery for four years now. The harsh economic, political and social reality of Jerusalem has never made me wonder about the real work we are doing at Al-Hoash,” explained Hanan Wakim. “To me, the workshop program and this type of open day with all the activities are the best way for me to feel a real connection with the community through art.”
Al Hoash workshops are organized as part of an annual educational program, which aims at developing and enhancing art production and its appreciation in the local community, especially among children and youth. The program emphasizes the role of art and culture in maintaining Palestinian cultural identity and using art as tool for free expression and a non-violent means for releasing anger and frustration.