Myra Greene and Sama Alshaibi

Myra Greene and Sama Alshaibi

Myra Greene, untitled Character Recognition series, 2006
Sama Alshaibi, Target Practice, Birthright series, 2004.

Myra Greene and Sama Alshaibi

March 1 – April 5, 2008
Opening Reception: Monday, March 3, 6-8pm at Umbrella Arts Gallery
Artist Talk: Saturday, March 1, 5:30-7pm at PEER Gallery
(526 West 26th Street, #209, NYC)

Umbrella Arts + Projects
317 East 9th Street (between 1st & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Myra Greene: “Throughout my artistic practice, I have returned to the body to explore issues of difference, beauty, physical and emotional recollections as they play out on the surface of the skin. Using wet-plate collodion (a process linked to the times of ethnographic classification, popular from 1850-1880s), Character Recognition explores my ethnic features. When I applied this old process to my interest in the black body and self, the imagery described my body in a way never imagined. Tainted with the visual history of American slavery, these images point directly to the features of race. Thick lips and nose, and darken skinned; these contemporary studies link the view to a complicated historical past. While the process of wet plate codes the body in this work, the body is able to speak back. Through small facial gestures, the body reacts and rejects to these modes and ways of classification. ”

Sama Alshaibi: “I am an artist born to an Iraqi father and Palestinian mother. My work, based on my family’s exile, uses the body as a symbol – the retrospective witness that links our present to a time before we were refugees, exiles and “terrorists.” The quintessential woman, the pregnant mother, performs the injustices, defying all attempts to obliterate our history and who we collectively are. Freedom fighter, terrorist, soldier, insurgent, peacekeeper… this conundrum of perception taking place in my womb was a microcosm of the agenda of righteousness played out in modern day politics. All my maternal instincts are powerless to protect him from the future he will be forced to inherit because of his national identity. Excerpts of poems from noted Palestinian poets expressively capture our collective voice of determination and longing. These writings act as discussions, declarations and documentation of life under occupation. Both graffiti (as art) and vandalism (as a criminal act), the writings embody the complexity in defining the perception of resistance. By being both the victim and the victimizer, I am able to cross, once again, the delicate line of perspective.”

Special thanks to Umbrella Arts, Peer Gallery, Casa de Vinos and Lowepro, for their support of this program. Our Touring Gallery program is funded in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the NY State Council on the Arts, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

Opening Reception at Umbrella Arts, March 3, 2008.
Sama and Myra talk about their work to a full house, at PEER Gallery on March 1, 2008.