Vanderbilt exhibit 'I AM' combats stereotypes of Middle Eastern women
September 18, 2018 - Melinda Baker
Last month, in a speech at the opening reception for Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery’s latest exhibition, “I AM: Middle Eastern Women Artists and the Quest To Build Peace,” participating Bahraini artist Sheikha Lulwa Al Khalifa succinctly refuted some common stereotypes about women in her country: ”Our women are educated. They are empowered. They occupy top positions in both the private and public sectors. They are ministers, ambassadors, CEOs, educators, entrepreneurs. (They) represent half our work force and ... are paid equally to men. They vote. They dress however they want and they drive ... and yes, sadly, we have the same lame women driver jokes that you have here."
Rectifying Western misconceptions about Middle Eastern women, particularly Arab and Iranian women, is essential to the vision behind “I AM,” which aims to build bridges of understanding, respect and connection between the regions. The exhibition features work by 31 acclaimed established and emerging Middle Eastern women artists from 12 countries, including women of both Christian and Muslim faiths whose art tells the truth about who they really are, how they actually live and what they are doing to help build a more harmonious world.