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Intercultural show opens at Hood

Beyond East and West explores work of seven artists

Seven transnational artists from the region stretching from Egypt to Pakistan have come together in one exhibition to reveal a new kind of intercultural understanding through art.

Shahzia Sikander, Nemesis, 2003, Computer animated video projection, which is part of the Hood Museum of Art's new exhibition, Beyond East and West: Seven Transnational Artists, on view from Saturday, Oct. 9, until Dec. 12. (photo courtesy of the artist and Brent Sikkema, New York)

Opening Saturday, Oct. 9, at the Hood Museum of Art, Beyond East and West: Seven Transnational Artists features the work of major contemporary artists Ghada Amer, Shahzia Sikander, Mona Hatoum, Y. Z. Kami, Jananne Al-Ani, Walid Raad, and Michal Rovner. Each artist is represented by a choice selection of works ranging from large installations and video projections to prints, sculptures, and miniature paintings. These artists share a connection to both their homelands in the "East" and the places in the "West" where they primarily live and work. Their lives and their art traverse boundaries between these two worlds, dismantling stereotypes and seeking to broaden perceptions on both sides of the global divide. On view through Dec. 12, Beyond East and West is the final exhibition in New Art Now, the museum's year-long focus on contemporary art.

Beyond East and West: Seven Transnational Artists is organized by the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. David O'Brien, Program Chair and Associate Professor of Art History at the university and co-curator of the exhibition, will make the opening presentation on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 4:30 p.m. in the Arthur M. Loew Auditorium. A reception will follow in Kim Gallery.

"The art in this show addresses various experiences of travel, exile, diaspora, alienation, and integration, feelings of longing and belonging, memories of places and people, encounters with divergent views of sexuality and gender, alternate political understandings of the world, and cultural practices that both divide and unite us," O'Brien says.

While the artists' cosmopolitan worldviews are apparent in their work, he says, they manage to "preserve important particularities to their individual histories and homelands."

In her photography and video installations, Jananne Al-Ani, a British artist born to an Iraqi father and an Irish mother, explores her family's experiences and memories of war in Iraq, feelings of loss and separation, and the cultural divide between the East and the West that continues to be exacerbated by the popular media.

Ghada Amer, an Egyptian artist living in New York, questions established cultural boundaries of sexuality and gender by superimposing embroidered line drawings of sexually engaged women with painted fields and patterns of vibrant and often contrasting colors.

Drawing upon her own feelings of intimacy, connection, exodus, and alienation, Mona Hatoum, a Palestinian born in Beirut and living in London, addresses the emotional experience of immigration, exile, and the renegotiation of Arab and European identity through minimalist sculpture and installation art.

Y. Z. Kami, an Iranian artist who lives and works in New York, creates large, carefully rendered portraits of unnamed people and abandoned or dilapidated buildings that elicit feelings of humanity, empathy, and familiarity alongside a sense of anonymity, alienation, and transience.

Walid Raad, a Lebanese artist living in New York, creates fictional visual analyses of seemingly factual events through multimedia installations that comment upon the memory, interpretation, and re-examination of contemporary Lebanese history.

Michal Rovner, an artist who works in both New York and Israel, digitally manipulates and distorts photographic images and videos to eliminate specific references to race, nationality, place, gender, and ethnicity, thereby evoking thoughts of illicit border crossings, deterritorialization, and genetic experimentation.

Born in Pakistan and now living in New York, Shahzia Sikander infuses the techniques, iconography, and media of traditional South Asian miniature painting with personal symbols, contemporary motifs, and multicultural religious iconographies to explode the conventions of the past in a globalized and contemporary context.

To further explore the works and artists in the exhibition, there will be an educational area in Lathrop Gallery with related books, articles, and computer stations with relevent online resources. Also in the exhibition, there will be a video segment from the PBS series art:21 that features Sikander, as well as access to the art:21 website and its educational materials.

"These artists' perspectives are diverse and highly personal, yet their work collectively challenges prevailing attitudes and assumptions about difference in the 'East' and the 'West,'" says Barbara Thompson, Curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections at the museum. "Presented in very human terms, their art explores broader human experiences of alienation, integration, and community; of political, cultural, sexual, and social imbalances; and of the blurring of cultural boundaries in a globalized world that binds us all together."

The presentation of Beyond East and West at the museum is funded by the William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Hall Fund and the George O. Southwick 1957 Memorial Fund. Following its viewing at the Hood Museum of Art, Beyond East and West will travel to the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Mass.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated, full-color catalog featuring essays by co-curators David O'Brien and David Prochaska and excerpts from conversations with the artists. The catalog is available through the Hood Museum of Art Shop: 646-2317.


Events related to 'Beyond East and West'

SATURDAY, OCT. 9, 4:30 P.M.

  • Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
  • Opening Lecture and Reception
  • David O'Brien, Program Chair and Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and curator of Beyond East and West. A reception will follow in Kim Gallery.

TUESDAY, OCT. 12, 12:30 P.M.

  • Lathrop Gallery
  • Lunchtime Gallery Performance by Haale. Free admission.

TUESDAY, OCT. 19, 12:30 P.M.

  • Albright Gallery
  • Lunchtime Gallery Talk about Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema's A Sculpture Gallery (1874), by T. Barton Thurber.

TUESDAY, OCT. 26, 12:30 P.M.

  • Second-Floor Galleries
  • Lunchtime Gallery Talk by Gene R. Garthwaite about the dichotomies of "traditional"/modern and Middle Eastern/Western.


  • Gallery Discussion
  • "What Is It About?"
  • For adults who would like to increase their skills and enjoyment of contemporary art.Registration required. Call 646-1469.

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 3, 5:30 P.M.

  • Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
  • Artist Talk by Ghada Amer

TUESDAY, NOV. 9, 12:30 P.M.

  • Second-Floor Galleries
  • Lunchtime Gallery Talk
  • "Transnational in Middle Eastern Contemporary Art," by Barbara Thompson, Curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections.

WEDNESDAYS, NOV. 10 AND 17, 2:30 P.M.-4 P.M.

  • Teen Workshop
  • "New Place, Same Face: Explorations in Book and Art"
  • Two-part workshop for grades six through nine involves reading multicultural stories, discussing them and a studio project. Register by Nov. 3 by calling 643-4120.


  • Introductory Tour of Beyond East and West

SUNDAY, NOV. 14, 1 P.M.-4 P.M.

  • Teen Workshop
  • "Choice and Independence: Explorations in Book and Art"
  • Workshop for grades 10 through12 features a book group discussion, art exploration, and a studio project. Register by Nov. 3 by calling 646-1469.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 1, 5:30 P.M.-7:30 P.M.

  • Holiday Open House
  • Refreshments and light snacks in Kim Gallery and live performances in Loew Auditorium, and the exhibitions Beyond East and West and Dreaming of Country.


  • Introductory tours of Beyond East and West are offered these Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 23, Nov. 13, and Dec. 4.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08