Between Sorrow and Beauty

In a solo exhibit at the Islam Museum in Jerusalem, Fatima Abu-Rumi expresses her strong views on the opprression of Arab women through her art, writes Carmit Sapir Weitz. A young Palestinian, Abu-Rumi often explores the role of her family in that oppression in her work.

al-monitor By Fatima Abu Rumi. Photo by via

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exhibition, women, society, palestine, jerusalem, islam, hijab, art, arab

Jul 23, 2012

Fatima Abu-Rumi was only six years old when she would sit in the courtyard of her home and wash the clothing of her younger brothers by hand. Today, several long years later, she returns to the same place but filled with power and courage to launder the stains of the past, cleaning the wounds and treating the pain.

A solo exhibition opened in Jerusalem’s Islamic Museum last week, “Between Sorrow and Beauty,” based on the works of artist Fatima Abu-Rumi. This show is an integral part of a series of exhibitions in this museum of Arab painters in Israel, and Abu-Rami does not hold her punches: the basis of the entire display is portrayal of the tragic situation of Arab woman. Abu-Rumi expresses her strong views regarding the oppression of Arab woman, their immobilized status, and conventions that deprive them of opening their mouths without first obtaining permission from a master, husband, or family elder.

The [Islamic] veil (hijab) appears prominently in her work. In Abu-Rumi’s eyes, the decorated veil that is ornamented with sparkling zircons symbolizes the barriers placed by society on women.

Abu-Rumi is a young Palestinian artist who lives and creates in Israel. She was born into a large family in the Tamra village in the Western Galilee. Her father appears as a major figure in her life; in the exhibit, he is partially covered by a hijab that covers or masks his face.The figure of Abu-Rumi’s mother does not appear in the exhibit, except for hairs from her head that the daughter collected over a long time period, then used to decorate the crown on her father’s head. “The family struggled for its physical as well as spiritual existence,” Abu-Rumi explains.

“I don’t take it for granted that the museum opens its doors to these artists,” comments the exhibit’s curator, Farid Abu-Shakra, regarding the painful issues raised in the exhibit. The real change began in 2008. Back then the museum was a precursor by initiating inter-cultural discussion and talk. The museum understood the importance of promoting Arab artists and rose to the challenge. “

“Change involves action, not words. The Islamic Museum is the first institution in the country to initiate these exhibits and invite an Arab curator to curate Arab artists and relate to this issue at eye level, as equals."

“Between Sorrow and Beauty,” Museum of Islamic Art, Palmach 2 Street, Jerusalem. Artistic manager: Rachel Hason. Curator: Farid Abu-Shakra

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