ENDURING SPIRIT

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The Chaldean Educational Center of America, in collaboration with the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs (MCACA), and Mesopotamia Art History & Beyond (Learning Studio & Art Gallery), presents a selection of 30 artworks by pioneer, established, and emerging contemporary Chaldean artists living in Southeastern Michigan and countries around the world. Subjects common to Chaldean artworks include landscape, traditional scenes of popular life, love, family, war, exile, and politically or socially motivated themes. In exploring their unique identity, Chaldean artists often include visual references to their Mesopotamian heritage, such as ancient pictographic symbols and cuneiforms or architecture, incorporate Chaldean or Arabic writing, or use Christian imagery.
The exhibit is particularly important because it includes works by the important pioneer artists Issa Hanna [Dabish] and Khuder Jirjees. Issa Hanna was a founding member of the first officially recognized artist organization “Friends of Art Society” in Baghdad in 1941. Approximately twenty art works by Issa Hanna were housed in the modern art component of the Baghdad Museum, before the museum was looted in 2003. Khuder Jirjees one of the founders of the 60’s art group Adam & Eve taught courses on color at the College of Fine Arts in Baghdad for several years. In his works, he often used a palette knife to create broad landscapes of color. In the early 90’s, he began to slowly lose his eyesight due to inadequate medical care caused by the sanctions. But he continued to paint, declaring that he could feel color and recognize the harmony of colors by touch.
The other participating artists include: Mazin Elia Al Shaawi, Qais Issa Al Sindy, Lavon Ammori, Paul Batou, Farouk Kaspaules, Sam Selou, Zuhair Shaaouni, and Amer Hanna Fatuhi. These artists have earned recognition for their artworks and their great contributions to their respective fields.
Chaldean artists have faced many challenges, such as discrimination, opposition to free expression, war, and displacement to new countries. At the same time, they demonstrate a complete commitment to art. Their works express a sadness common to contemporary Iraqis, but also the resilience of the Iraqi spirit. This exhibit is particularly relevant considering current events. This is a critical time to present the art of the native Iraqis and acknowledge a shared humanity across all cultures.

Lavon Ammori, Art Exhibit Organizer