Israelis and Palestinians came together yesterday for an exhibit in the Dudley House common room featuring an exhibition of their common artistic efforts.
The event, called "Prelude to Peace, Israeli and Palestinian Artists Build Bridges," featured the collaborative artwork of six Israeli and six Palestinian artists. The goal was to use the universal language of art to foster good will between the two Middle Eastern groups, organizers said.
"Art establishes a common ground where people can relate to each other in a positive way," said Erkut Gomulu, a graduate program coordinator at Northeastern's International Student Center.
The 12 artists met in 1982 and created a joint exhibition on the theme of peace. The event's organizers acquired the mixed-media canvasses from the Meridian International Center in Washington D.C.
Organizer Ivonne A-Baki said that the idea of combining art and politics came naturally as a result of her own work as an artist and political advocate.
"I have always tried to unite politics and art for the purpose of furthering peace," she said. "Even much of my own artwork is deeply political in nature."
Sponsor and organizer Hoda Abou-Jamra, of the International Student Center at Northeastern University, said that she had encountered many obstacles in trying to gather support for the event.
"There were many members of my own community who were opposed to any attempt at a consortium like this," she said. "It's hard to put aside hostile feelings when your mother or father or maybe a relative has been killed during these violent clashes. However, no one said that the peace process would be easy."
Despite the current tension in Palestinian-Israeli relations, organizers said gatherings such as the exhibition are important to the peace effort.
"We can't let differences in the past ruin the opportunities for the future," Abou-Jamra said. "In a sense you can say that we're stuck together. We might as well work for the best."
The art exhibit was the first event of a three-day series on the "Building Bridges" theme. The next event takes place today from noon to 1 p.m. at Northeastern University's Ell Building.
Titled "Reconciliation Through Music," the event will feature the eight-person music group Boustan Abraham, half of whom are Palestinian and half whom are Israeli.