IMMIGRANTS share art in special exhibit
As a continuation of the Art of Reconciliation program, Christ Church Parish is exhibiting the art of Farooq Hassan and his wife, artist Haifa Al Habeeb, in Maginnis Chapel through May 2019. Both artists were born in Iraq and spent the majority of their lives there. Dur-
ing that time they were well-known artists and part of a thriving art community.
The exhibit was curated by parishoner LeRoy Goertz, an artist himself and founder of the Art of Reconciliation program. Goertz says the mission of the Art of Reconciliation program is to "use the power of art to bring healing to our communities."
"Many artists believe that art can change lives," writes Goertz on his webpage, artofreconciliation.org. "Before people had access to the printed word, images were used to communicate with others. The stained glass windows in churches, mosques and synagogues told the stories of these religions with color and light. The Art of Reconciliation invites artists to contemplate how their art might bring communities together."
Goertz included Hassan and Al Habeeb in a previous Art of Reconciliation exhibit at Concordia College in 2013. He finds their story and art compelling.
Hassan and Al Habeeb were both born in Basra, Iraq; he in 1939 and she in 1945. Hassan earned a Certificate of Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad in 1960, then returned to Basra to teach art at a primary school. That is where he met Al Habeeb. They have been married for more than 50 years.
They both graduated in 1980 from the Fine Arts Academy in Rome, Italy. Al Habeeb's major was scenography architecture; she worked in the movie and television industry as an art director from 1981 to 1990, designing costumes, decorations and accessories. Her work would lead to her designing five stamps of folkloric Iraqi costumes for the Iraqi postal service, and to publish a book through University of Basrah on folkloric Iraqi costumes. She is also a writer of television and cinematic scenarios.
Hassan also worked in the television and film industry, designing and decorating sets, and also designed stamps for the Iraqi postal service. He has been a full-time award-winning artist since 1991, with national and international exhibitions to his credit.
When the Iraq war heated up in 2003, Hassan lost some of his most prized art in the looting of the Iraq Museum. During the outbreak of the conflict the couple and their children escaped to Baghdad until it was safe to return to Basra. Two years later, Islamic terrorist groups took control of Basra, which Hassan says "destroyed everything."
In 2010, the couple relocated to Portland to be with their daughter. For Hassan, this transition was not easy. He had to leave all his artwork in the hands of his brother, who opted to stay in Basra.
Today, Hassan's paintings are focused on the female body, a choice which he reflects, "gives me kind of a freedom in expressing myself because women are a symbol of life, love, birth and everything in life."
Having faced their share of obstacles throughout their lives, Hassan and Al Habeen do not let their circumstances keep them from creating art, the work they love. They are re-establishing themselves as artists in the Pacific Northwest.
"As artists we bring images, stories, poems and music to you," wrote Goertz in a catalogue for the Concordia College exhibit. "We bring ourselves and our cultures and perceptions of our world, and invite you to interact with our creativity. We ask you to join us in a world with no limits or boundaries. Our desire is that this creativity will touch a place in your soul that longs for connection with people from other lands and perspectives."
Christ Church Parish is located at 1060 Chandler Road in Lake Oswego. The gallery is open by appointment and during Sunday worship hours. Learn more online at ccparish.org.