Artist Statement

Paint, canvas, and paintbrushes are the tools that enable me to participate in non-violent resistance.

 

While I spent my early childhood between Paris and Washington, D.C., the return to Beirut when I was 11 years old presented challenges, since it came so soon after the civil war. The city, which was struggling to shake off the debris of the war, took on an increasingly patriarchal and conservative outlook born out of the fear of the other. Primarily, though not exclusively, the other in Lebanon is a person from a different religious sect. The other also has a sexual orientation outside of what is heteronormative. This other is not only alienated socially, but also chastised by the law, making him or her and the way they love illegal. I am an other in a myriad of ways, and perhaps because of this, I chose to become an artist.

 

Given that much of Beirut has been lying in ruins for the past two decades, I seek to embellish it through my craft in order to open my viewers to a world of “what could be” while denouncing corruption, the absence of a sustainable and eco-friendly urban plan, and the destruction of nature, the shoreline, and public space.

 

Since my first solo show, I Dreamt of a City where Roofs are made of Grass and Sheep are just Clouds, at Artlab – Beirut in 2013, I went from exploring the identity of Beirut and defending it’s heritage to, in my second show They’ve hidden the Sea from Me at Aïda Cherfan Fine Art in 2015, focusing on defending Lebanon’s coastline from the barbaric invasion of ultramodern spiritless towers.

 

The City Screams, my 3rd solo show at Aïda Cherfan Fine Art (2017), communicated almost exclusively environmental concerns.

This series of paintings was born out of the garbage crisis that occurred in Lebanon approximately 2 years ago and is still not entirely resolved. Acid Rain, 4 Trees in the Metropolis, The Steel Bulldozer, Beirut in its Brown Sky are some of the titles of the paintings that were exhibited.

 

Since beginning work in the MFA program at SUNY Purchase College, I have been making paintings based on what I’m seeing and experiencing in New York and the suburbs of Westchester County. I began feeling a little overwhelmed with The Lost Road, got disoriented; then my gaze fell on The Empire State Building. I then worked on the Study of a Lamp and autumn came about, revealing and enveloping the city all at once …

 

Vanessa,

NY – 01/2018