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souk to represent art & handicrafts from Arab world at Arabesque
Mar '09
From February 23 to March 15, 2009, the Kennedy Center will present Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World; an unprecedented three-week celebration of Arab arts and culture that includes music, dance, theatre as well as exhibitions of art, jewelry, fashion, photos, and cuisine representing the twenty-two members of the Arab League. The festival is presented in cooperation with the League of Arab States.

Jordan is a major participant at Arabesque in its various components; music, art, and fashion. Jordanian musical talent will be represented by the award winning group RUM, led by Tareq Al Nasser and directed by Russol Al Nasser. The group, which now includes more than twenty members, explores Oriental and Western traditions to form a new listening and imaginative experience.

One of the major features of the festival is the unique and celebrated exhibition of women artists from the Islamic world; “Breaking the Veils,” which is in turn inspired and spearheaded by Her Royal Highness Princess Wijdan Al Hashemi. The exhibition brings together work of female artists from the Arab world and beyond in an attempt to break the stereotypes attached to women in the Islamic world.

The exhibition includes paintings and etchings of women artists from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sudan, Yemen, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, the U.A. E, Syria and Oman. The exhibition works come from the permanent collection of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman. The exhibit is currently on a U.S. tour, led and presented by the ArtReach Foundation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit.

In coordination with the Information Bureau at the Embassy of Jordan in Washington, DC, the Kingdom is also participating in the souk and the wedding dress exhibition. The souk will be a centerpiece of the Arabesque festival, representing art and handicrafts from the Arab world.

From Jordan, the souk will feature handicrafts from the Jordan River Foundation, exquisite jewelry by the two prominent Jordanian designers Nadia Dajani and Lama Hourani, unique pieces of Islamic and Arab calligraphy by the renowned Jordanian artist Farouk Lambaz and modern artistic pieces from Jordanian-American artists based in Maryland, Nisreen AbuDail and Lina Mrouz.

The souk will also include vendors from other Arab countries; thereby reflecting the richness and beauty of traditional crafts, as well as the creativity and contemporary stylings of the Arab world. The souk will be open daily over the course of the festival.

A Jordanian wedding dress from the southern city of Ma'an will represent Jordan in the especially curated “Brides of the Arab World” exhibit. “Brides of the Arab World” brings together more than forty elaborate and colorful dresses traditionally worn by brides throughout the twenty two Arab countries. The Ma'an wedding ensemble is from the private collection of Mrs. Widad Kawar, who during the past five decades has amassed one of the largest collections of costumes from Jordan and Palestine. Kawar is internationally renowned for her efforts to research, collect, and preserve traditions Arab handwork, and is credited with saving many regional costumes from disappearing completely.

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