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A Shared Humanity

By Lynn Degrande

Chaldean art graced the "Iraq . . . That We Know Best" exhibition at the Mesopotamia Learning Studio and Art Gallery in Ferndale last month.

"First of all, we are showing the world the native Iraqi Chaldeans", said Amer Hanna Fatuhi, senior director of the gallery. "We are very regular people, like any other people in the world. We live our life like any other people, we care about our family, we fall in love, we talk to people in a nice way, we write poems, we do paintings".

"The point is to show the general public and the art community in this area the work of Chaldean artists to give the idea of common culture, things that were common in our area", said Lavon Ammori, a featured artist. The show represents "trying to put together a picture of Chaldeans as not extinct, still thriving and contributing to our culture and communities we live in", she added. The exhibit was a grouping of Chaldean and other Iraqi contemporary artists from around the world, including Iraq, Canada, Holland, and the United States. It offered several works by Ammori. One work, "Freedom", was a collaboration with Fatuhi. Lavon did the side and I did the center part, and we decided to call it 'Freedom' because I believe freedom is the most important thing for any human being", Fatuhi said. The work depicted a woman as a representative of Iraq with the symbol of a running gazelle, taken from an ancient Mesopotamian tablet, showing freedom.

Another study by Ammori was titled "Teacups". "Drinking tea is such a daily experience and such a part of being Chaldean, so I made a study of a conversation between two teacups because essentially that's what we do every morning", she explained.

Works by artist Burhan Kirkukly were also exhibited. One, "Out of the Darkness", portrayed a woman fleeing from the sanctions of the 1900s. Fatuhi called "Kirkukly one of the greatest graphic artists in Iraq". Also exhibited were several Kirkukly woodcut technique pieces, unique because he used the original cutout as the work, rather than stamping it to paper.

Works by Issa Hanna Dabish included "Baghdad in the 50s" and "Amadiya". Dabish, 86 began painting in Iraq in 1932.

Additional art included abstracts and carvings on glass by Mark George; oils on canvas by Qais Issa Al-Sindy, Dr. Wissam Marqus and Roche Binyamen; and digital art by Zuhair Shaaouni. Also shown were acrylic on canvas by artists Dr. Sue Roumayah and Fatuhi, terra cotta sculptures that depicted abstract representations of the Chaldean female by Mazin Elia.

The exhibit offered representations of ancient traditions, such as the watermelon seller, bread making and Chaldean letters. Ammori's "Chaldean doll" depicted a Chaldean woman in modern dress and a Chaldean doll in traditional clothing. Ammori called it "a connection through time, being related through lineage and culture". Also represented were Masood Yaldo, M. Muhraddin, Fadhel Tu'ma, Farouk Kaspaules, Mahmoud Al-Ubaidi, M.H. Abdulla, Dr. Alaa Hermiz, Joseph Yousif, Susan Jadan and the late Ziad M. Haider. Art techniques included cuneiform, picture graph, intaglio and photo technique.

The June 23 opening reception was covered by Iraqi satellite television Alhurra and ICA Media, Inc. At the reception, sponsor Dr. David Ayoub was honored with a replica of an ancient Iraqi cylinder seal to recognize his contribution to and support of the art community.

During the course of the exhibit, Robert Gordon, the Washington D.C., director of the trade organization KAR, was honored for his contribution to the Iraqi people. Sponsor Tarik Daoud was recognized for his contribution and assistance to the art community.

Approved by the International Association of Chaldean Professional Visual Artists, the exhibit was originally scheduled to run through June 30, but because of demand was extended through the end of July. "In fact, more than we expected", said Fatuhi.

Ammori described the show as, "A way to see humanity in others, to see there is a shared humanity".

Ammori is currently involved in the Chaldean Contemporary Art Project. The completed project will offer a comprehensive resource of contemporary Chaldean artists C "providing a fuller picture of Iraqi history".

The Chaldean News - August 2006