Art Exhibit Making US Debut Aims to Shatter Stereotypes of Muslim Women

July 3, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: IHT/The Associated Press

In the months following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Princess Wijdan Al Hashemi and her friend Aliki Moschis-Gauguet noticed that the only depictions they saw of Muslim women showed figures behind veils, oppressed by their cultures.

Moschis-Gauget said, "'Do you see what's going on the media?... Muslim women are being portrayed as women living behind long veils,'" said Al Hashemi, founder and director of the Royal Society of Fine Arts of Jordan. "She couldn't stand the way Muslim and Arab women were being portrayed."

Al Hashemi and Moschis-Gauguet, president of the Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network, turned to the world they knew best to find an answer: the world of art.

To combat what they saw as misperceptions about the Muslim world and Arab nations, the two women teamed up to create a traveling exhibit featuring female artists from Islamic countries. The show "Breaking the Veils: Women Artists From the Islamic World" began its three-year United States tour at the Clinton Presidential Library, where it will be on view through Sept. 14.

The exhibit features works by 52 women from 21 Islamic countries, from Algeria to Yemen. It previously toured 15 European cities and Australia.