We had the good fortune of connecting with Manal Deeb and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manal, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
Humanity that bridges between all people, all cultures and all religions. That commonalty of oneness takes us into a common belonging with no harm but peace. Acceptance is what I seek, and acceptance is what I practice. Differences have magical influence on creativity. Without this, I would not be here as I am!Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I call myself a hybrid being both here (in America) and there (in Palestine). I look to create stories in my artworks since I struggle between my Palestinian identity and the self actualization. I travelled to the US from Ramallah, Palestine when I was 18 years old. I studied studio arts at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and then completed my interdisciplinary studies of art and psychology at George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia, where I currently reside. Art started as a means of self therapy and then transformed into many different facets of self reveal, healing others, passing on a message, challenge views, tackle an international case, political issues, and humanity gathering. I am a reader, and books play a great role into my imagery creativity. Most often my emotions drive me into art making after reading a poem that touches my heart and soul. Once that happens, I can not hold my inner self from penetrating the canvas and start a melody of passion of colors. I always see Palestine and freedom on my color palette. I have worked towards making images that I have always known, images I knew as a child. These images come from my inner truth. Being in exile (away from Palestine) ignites creativity. Creativity is similar to dream-time. I can be working on a piece of art for weeks and weeks and yet something can transpire in only an hour, just as the last five minutes of dream-time can process something epic. Yet one needed the entire night of sleep I often use a female face as the subject, I frequently channel my anguish into creative expression; making the female face a universal symbol of exile. Here, women become a manifestation of the pain of being away from home, while also a symbol of strength and endurance; never letting go of a dream to return. My art usually explores and describes how I am interested in the relationship between the curves of the Arabic scripture (calligraphy) and the features of the female form. I combined both to make it even better for me, for the harmony of color, the features and the words. The women never look fearful or defeated. Despite any potential struggles with discrimination, poverty, loss or stress under occupation, they are still empowered. They look ready and able to carry the burdens for themselves and their families. This is the feminine psyche at its most magnificent.If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The DC area is full of energy filled places. As an artist, of course I would take them out to check the different national museums. Take them in a walk tour of two amazing areas: Georgetown DC and Alexandria VA. These areas are vibrant with a touch of an amazing history. We would have dinner on the Potomac River front. I would also buy tickets to attend the unbelievable shows at the Kennedy Center and enjoy the evening discussing the shows and the talents behind them.Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The support from my immediate family was unparalleled. As a female from a Middle Eastern background, traveling to the US to study art was not an easy ordeal. I had to go through self recognition before being able to lobby the minds to recognize the importance of art in our lives. Without the support of my husband and my three daughters, this would not have happened. My secret love toward art and art making could have very much been silenced by myself and others. I owe a lot to the four of them for believing in my creativity and for encouraging me to reach the skies in my imaginations.