Exhibition: When words run dry, art tells stories

Published: April 27, 2013

The paintings at the exhibition convey a series of messages to the viewers. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

The paintings at the exhibition convey a series of messages to the viewers. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS The paintings at the exhibition convey a series of messages to the viewers. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS
ISLAMABAD: 

A group of 50 emerging artists from across the country displayed their artwork at the National College of the Arts (NCA), Rawalpindi on Friday. The paintings were aimed at enhancing communication between Pakistan and the United States of America.

Sponsored by the US Embassy, the showcased art pieces were created at a two-day workshop conducted by Phillips Collection Museum Programme Manager Rachel Goldberg.

During the workshop, the artists took inspiration from the American artist Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series” and came up with their own interpretations of his work. They highlighted important cultural aspects of the country’s history.

Goldberg held similar workshops in Islamabad and Lahore that included artists from Balochistan to Sindh and underprivileged children and orphans from the Mashal School at SOS village. She taught them how to use art to convey important stories. The underlying theme of the artwork remained social change.

At the NCA gallery, the art students were divided into groups and assigned individual themes. Each group displayed their series of pieces on the gallery walls while the centre of the gallery space was given to the artwork of Mashal School’s children.

Their art ran along the lines of storytelling. “Our series depict the story of a poor man, who through his self evaluation, struggle and luck, becomes hopeful. We have symbolised this idea with a tree,” said Yusra Baig, a student at NCA. She explained the series of black and white charcoal and water colours along with her group mates.

While some groups focused on social or personal issues, others portrayed folklore. “We have illustrated the popular Baloch tale of Hani and Shah Mureed. According to the story, Mureed, a famous archer after being refused his lover Hani’s hand in marriage, wanders off into the desert and never returns. People still believe you can see his footsteps in the sand,” Anila Khursheed, another NCA student said.

An Afghan child painted his lawn in Afghanistan with green trees and flowers but with large helicopters hovering over the garden.”We are in an age where art is not simply an object, it is about communication and mutual understanding,” said US Embassy Minister Counselor for Public Affairs Peter Brennan. Many of the pieces on display will be featured in the Philips Collection Museum in Washington.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2013.

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