“Women of the Pandemic” Exhibition Opens in DC

WASHINGTON, DC – On September 30, 2021, the Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC) celebrated the opening of its “Women of the Pandemic” exhibition hosted at its headquarters in Washington, DC. Launched in partnership with the Katara Cultural Village in Qatar, the exhibition features the art of four American female artists and four Qatari female artists whose works are a reflection of their resilience and artistic ambitions during a time of major adversity which tested the creative communities worldwide.

The reception provided the opportunity to formally recognize the impact of these works, the artists behind them, and the supporters who made it possible, like ConocoPhillips and the Embassy of Qatar in Washington, DC. The guests in attendance represented DC’s diverse landscape, including leaders from esteemed museums, art galleries, and cultural institutions.

The attending guests had the opportunity to view the curated works on display after several months of “Women of the Pandemic” being solely a virtual viewing experience. To commemorate the exhibition’s official opening, remarks were provided by Fatima Al-Dosari, Executive Director at QAIC; Peggy Loar, Chair of QAIC’s Board of Directors; and Dr. Khalid Al-Sulaiti from the Katara Cultural Village.

“So many of the women I’ve known in life have had to be resourceful in ordinary times, but in a pandemic, new waves of creativity must come into play that challenge even the hardiest of women, even those who are used to a bit of chaos,” stated Peggy Loar during her remarks. “Creativity seems to be in the very DNA of women who have both responsibilities and difficult life circumstances … Creativity is often the spark which enables them to climb mountains.”

“[The ‘Women of the Pandemic’ exhibition] is an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences not only between the participating artists but also with the audience who followed these works in Qatar and will follow them today in Washington,” remarked Katara’s Dr. Khalid Al-Sulaiti. “This exhibition confirms once again Katara’s constant endeavor to enhance particularly the creative capabilities of women and all segments of society in general, and to invest culture an inspiration in the service of society.”

Following the remarks, several of the featured artists physically and virtually in attendance shared some brief commentary in reflection of the time elapsed since the last hosted discussion back in June of this year. Moderated by Sandra Wilkins, a member of QAIC’s Board of Directors and former Chair of Fashion Arts at VCUarts Qatar, the participating artists shared their perspectives on creativity in a post-quarantine world and their hopes for the future.

Qatari painter Haifa Al Khuzai mentioned that her featured works in the exhibition “express the role of women as leaders, as a friend, as inspiration; women who are connected to their heritage and traditions.” Some of the other artists directly took inspiration from the pandemic itself, like Qatari painter Abeer Al Kuwari, who said that her “paintings talk about joy and happy occasions during the coronavirus, showing the human connections and participation of family members during the pandemic.” For American artist Jordann Wine, creating her series of intricate mandalas “started as a meditative practice and grounding experience for [her]…it was [her] moments of joy in an uncertain time.”

When asked about how the pandemic has shifted their creative approach as an artist, American artist Anna U Davis stated that lockdown “pushed [her] to look further and also be less wasteful.” As for American artist Alexandra N Sherman, she remarked: “[the pandemic] allowed me to take a risk in my work…it allowed me a little bit of freedom because, what did I have to lose.”

The other participating artists in the exhibition include American artist Sarah Ahmad and Qatari artists Jawaher Rashid Al-Mannai and Maryam Abdulla Al-Kaldi.

The “Women of the Pandemic” exhibition marks another addition to the series of exhibitions that further QAIC’s mission of connecting creatives, convening communities, and celebrating cultures. The exhibition will remain open to the public for the next three months before relocating to Doha for its debut in Qatar in 2022. For more information about this exhibition, the participating artists, and how to schedule a visit, go to: Women of the Pandemic.

The Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC) is a Washington DC-based independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that creates, curates, and executes programs and research that amplify the prominence of all forms of art and culture from the United States, Qatar, and the larger Arab and Islamic worlds.

The Katara Cultural Village is the largest and the most multidimensional cultural project of Qatar where people come together to experience the cultures of the world. With beautiful theatres, concert halls, exhibition galleries and cutting-edge facilities, Katara aims to become a world leader for multi-cultural activities while serving as a guardian to the heritage and traditions of Qatar and spreading awareness about the importance of every culture and civilization.