Art is among the casualties of the war in Iraq, and Assistant Professor of Art Emna Zghal recently received a grant from the Creative Capital Foundation to bring attention to the loss of artifacts.
Zghal will collaborate with Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz to develop a traveling exhibition about the loss of native art and culture in Iraq and America. The works in the exhibition, Dark Turquoise, will be produced during a series of public workshops with Native American artists to recreate Iraqi artifacts destroyed, lost, or stolen during the war in Iraq.
"The reports in the U.S. about the looting of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad, the National Library, and other Iraqi cultural institutions in 2003 often failed to connect the artifacts with the Iraqi people," Zghal said. "I wanted to bring the story home as much as possible because Native Americans have experienced similar violence against their culture."
The initial $10,000 award from Creative Capital, a national organization that supports the arts, will fund workshops over the next three years at American Indian and Arab American community centers. The workshops will be in traditional Native American crafts such as beading, basket weaving, and ceramics, and will reproduce some of the lost Iraqi artifacts.
Zghal, who joined the Grinnell faculty in 2007, is a visual artist who works with oils and mixed media. Her work has been featured in exhibitions in her native Tunisia, France, Finland, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, India, Italy, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Rakowitz, who is associate professor of art theory and practice at Northwestern University, is an installation and public artist in Chicago.
The Dark Turquoise project by Zghal and Rakowitz is one of 41 projects selected from more than 2,500 applicants. The Creative Capital Foundation was created to "fulfill the needs of the country's most innovative artists." The project awards are renewable up to $50,000.