Artists at encaustic show in Troutdale use beeswax to create a wide variety of pieces
BY ROB CULLIVAN
The Gresham Outlook, Sep 28, 2011
Kanaan Kanaan, Middle East student advisor at Portland State University, grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan and created “Dialogue” for the exhibit.
The collaged piece displays excerpts from “Ahmad Al-Za’tar” or “Ahmad the Arab,” a much beloved poem among Palestinians by the late Mahmoud Darwish, whose words were eventually set to music and became an anthem for Palestinians worldwide.
Kanaan said, however, that the poem in his piece is not as important as his desire to inspire people to talk about how they relate to nature, loved ones, enemies and “others.” His work received an “Honorable Mention” award from the jury.
“It became this mosaic,” Kanaan said of “Dialogue.” “If you are really scattered and pieces of you were here and there, what would you really look like?”
Kanaan said he didn’t intend his piece’s unveiling to coincide with the recent move by Palestinian leaders to ask for recognition of statehood at the United Nations, but the timing has highlighted the piece’s impact.
He considers Palestinian statehood a “human rights” issue and is critical of the United States’ “unconditional” support of Israel, but stressed he recognizes Israel’s right to exist and opposes war. Ideally, he’d like to see one state that would include both Israelis and Palestinians, but acknowledges there’s hopelessness among many folks about the conflict because extremists on both sides keep fueling the fear and warring that keep them apart.
“Unfortunately, the people who are paying the price are the people who want peace,” he said. “I’m trying to get away from that incredible grim reality and do artwork that could really get us closer to peace.”
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