April 2, 2019

Painting Through Pain, with Hiba Jameel

Episode 2:

Hiba Jameel’s art serves as a way for her to process her world. Whether it is to fulfill her civic duty by criticizing the political climate or to express the sensitive sensual facets of life through painting flayed beautiful nude figures. Or painting to heal from her childhood wounds and engage others in art making via conducting interactive art events. You will see little glass cups decorated with gold in Hiba’s work, along with some mushroom clouds, gold leaf and lots of nude figures. Hiba uses the traditional tea cup she grew up drinking from as a symbol of her heritage and as a part of her identity. She processes the world around her by painting her experiences, using distinct brush strokes, rich color palate, and exaggerated figures. Her paintings have a luster finish, gold, and luminescent hues. The human figure to her is a body of language that she can use to interpret experiences and convey messages.

Hiba is a self-taught painter who identifies as a multidisciplinary artist – she paints, programs and leads community-based interactive art events. She enjoys involving the public in art-making as it elevates our culture and introduces a novel dialogue especially when it is discussing controversial topics.

At the age of 8, life forced Hiba to explore the idea of hope through pain and fear. She found it by making sculptures using shrapnel she found on the streets of Baghdad near her house. Throughout her childhood and well into her adolescence she experienced a lot of disorder in the form of trauma, turmoil, fear, abandonment, instability, escape, terror, religious and traditional restrictions, cancer, death, and grief. Despite all of this, as an adult, she arrived to some form of peace and order. She demonstrates this concept by deconstructing the traditional rules of painting and by creating order from disorder. She paints like she sketches – she starts with large areas first, prioritizing form, size or lighting. She makes many lines and images until they are combined into one idea. Shadows vary with the intensity of feelings in her work. She uses large amounts of paint, and layers to arrive to the core of her intention. Each painting is a theatrical scene that uses color, lines, disorder to find symmetry, normalcy and ultimately arriving to a cohesive order.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Hiba connected with Gallery Erato in Pioneer Square in Seattle through her work at A/NT Gallery, a nonprofit gallery for emerging artists
  • Why Hiba to do a showcase of art celebrating the beauty of the full-figured motherly body
  • Who Hiba chooses to paint very large works, and how she is getting used to oil painting and its differences from the acrylic painting she is used to
  • Why Hiba ignores uninvited criticism but seeks out criticism from people she respects and admires
  • Why being a female Iraqi artist painting nudes has been received, and why she doesn’t see herself as painting sexuality
  • How Hiba’s provocative painting of Donald Trump and Saddam Hussein titled “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?”, has received politically-charged hate from Trump supporters
  • How Hiba’s PTSD diagnosis comes from her experiences living in Iraq during the Gulf War as a child, listening to bombs explode around her
  • Why Hiba uses art as a way to process her pain, and how she learned her art skills as a very young child from her family
  • Why Hiba and her family had to flee Iraq to Jordan and later Syria when she was a child and young teen, to avoid the conflict
  • What challenges Hiba faced after immigrating to the U.S., not speaking English and having to attend public high school in Michigan
  • How the tremendous response to Hiba’s art has continued to grow and raise her profile as an emerging artist
  • Why Hiba attributes much of her art and its success to living in and embracing the city of Seattle
  • How Hiba is working on a collaboration to preserve and restore Iraqi culture destroyed by ISIS, in the DNA of plants through encoding it in Morse code

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