Past Forward is a great step towards deepening the passion for change that the UAE and United States both share. The goal of this exhibit exceeds beyond exposing US audiences to Emirati art, it is rather a commitment in cultural diplomacy, helping to strengthen each countries understanding of the others rich and diverse heritage.
Thousands of miles were traveled by the Meridian curators who journeyed to the UAE to assemble the collection. The process itself was a cultural exploration as the team members had to place themselves in the Emirati mindset, while simultaneously imagining how a particular piece would be perceived by western audiences. This process resulted in the most comprehensive collection of Emirati art to ever be exhibited in the United States.
Some of the artists included in the exhibit such as Abdul Qader Al Rais, Dr. Najat Makki and Obaid Suroor, are pioneers in the nation’s cotemporary movement. These artists have been creating their pieces for more than 40 years and their original works on the topics of the UAE’s society, architecture, history, and environment have made contemporary art a key discipline in modern UAE culture. Their pieces have also inspired a new generation and paved the way for the up and coming Emirati artists who play an active role in the change occurring among the UAE’s social and political landscape.
The UAE’s development and emergence on the world economic stage is an evident theme throughout the exhibit. Many of the works depict scenes of urbanization and globalization, and well as those that reflect nostalgia for the past. This speaks greatly to the efforts of the UAE to be a voice of change and economic growth and are undoubtedly qualities that make the Emirates a leader in the Middle East.
Cultural exchange is powerful way for our nations to connect, and serves as a means of finding common ground, fostering a stable relationship, and growing in mutual respect. Unlike any other medium, art has the innate ability to reach across barriers of language and culture to communicate to all people. While the exhibit does serve as an enjoyable form of education and entertainment, it is also a great step towards bringing our nation’s people and ideas together.