Umm El Fahem Gallery Visit Report by Emanuelle Slater

On the 23rd of January 2018, the visual art students of EMIS woke up bright and early and got into a bus driving straight to a rainy Umm Al Fahm (alternatively spelled Umm El-Fahem), an Arab town in the Haifa District of Israel. Upon arrival, the students were welcomed in the Umm El-Fahem Art Gallery with warm smiles and a delicious Arab breakfast. After getting settled in, the students took a walk around the exhibition, Selfie: I Was Here by Ashraf Fawakhry, an exhibition with a clear recurring motif of a donkey as an allegory to the Palestinian narrative. Afterwards, the EMISers went upstairs to the gallery’s studio, where they had one hour and a half to create a piece inspired by the exhibition, and the results were outstanding! There were Jewish students whose artworks reflected their perspective of the donkey as a symbol of a coming messiah, a student from the USA who perceived the donkey as symbolic of the democratic party, and many others who found political and apolitical meanings of their own.

After a presentation of the students’ final pieces and a reflection session of the exhibition and newfound knowledge about Umm Al Fahm, students got back into the bus, headed towards Haifa.

In Haifa, students got off the bus in Wadi Nisnas, a predominantly Arab neighborhood. The EMISers met with a guide who briefed the students on the history of the area while walking through, showing street art that graces the roads. The walking tour ended at the Haifa Museum of Art, where the students spent hours walking around the very large exhibition, Dangerous Art, featuring 80 outstanding artists, both Israeli and international. The exhibition was very political and dealt with many contemporary injustices in today’s world. Dangerous Art was a huge success with the students, and left everyone deep in thought, and very inspired.

After a long day of experiencing art, thoughtful discussions, tasty Arab food, and inspiration, it was finally time to return to EMIS, ending the last DP2 art trip of the course.