Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Breaking Barriers with Public Art

The role of art in community building, creative placemaking, and economic growth in the Western world has been fully examined and realized. However, in Saudi Arabia public art is just beginning to be accepted and the impact is interesting to consider. This BBC article, Art in Saudi Arabia: Appetite fuels public displays, examines the evolution of public art in Jeddah, a city sacred to Islam and a Saudi Arabian cultural center. Most notably this city-wide acceptance of public art opens opportunities to empower women in preserving their history, aiding in female autonomy, providing outlets for female artists, and correlating with major infrastructure and development expansions.

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2 comments on “Breaking Barriers with Public Art

  1. trishayoung
    October 10, 2014

    First of all, I don’t think I can name any ancestor past 4 generation-male or female-the information is available to me but not something I memorize. I like that as they build and develop Jeddah they are staying aware of the influence and power of art, especially when speaking to sensitive issues like gender and class.

  2. hgenetos
    October 10, 2014

    Having witness the early stages of this public art scene in Jeddah 5 years ago, I am pleased to see that it has continued. I loved nothing more than walking along the corniche at night during Ramadan while the city was bustling around us. You capture Jeddah’s place so perfectly for Saudis and Muslims. Unlike Mecca or Riyadh that have such strong religious or governmental roles, Jeddah is the free spirited child.

    I especially appreciate the focus on a women’s role and female empowerment. In fact, it is a return to the true roots of Islam where Muhammad’s first wife was the breadwinner and a woman of economic prominence in the region. Muhammad himself was known for his strong, positive views on women and their rights. Islam was one of the first religions to recognize a woman’s right to inheritance, a soul, and an economic place. I love that there is a focus on giving women more independence and allowing them to go out and know where they are without a need for their male driver as there have been so many campaigns to let women drive.

    I especially love that this is curated by a woman! Especially because it is truly a sign of an evolving Saudi Arabia thanks to King Abdullah.

    I think you will appreciate this panel on public art, who owns it and comparing public art in the Middle East versus the West.

    http://www.sharjahart.org/march-meeting/march-meeting-20121/programme/monday-19-march/the-responsibility-of-public-art

    This is honestly the perfect combination of all my interests: the Middle East, women’s rights (especially in terms of Islam and the Middle East) and visual art. i need to find someone to host me again in the Kingdom so I can go back.

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