The Arab American Club of Knoxville: From the Middle East to the Smoky Mountains

November 8-22, 2017
The Arab American Club of Knoxville: From the Middle East to the Smoky Mountains
Exhibition hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Please note, the Emporium is closed Thursday-Friday, November 23-24.

The Arab American Club of Knoxville is sponsoring Art exhibit of Paintings and Photos from the Middle East to the Smokey Mountains. The photo exhibit share experiences of local community members through their photo journeys to the Middle East and East Tennessee. Sam Mishu displays Photos of Jordan and the ancient City of Petra as well as the majestic natures of Cades Cove while Dean Rice’s trip to the Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan is well presented in the young children faces he captured in his photos. Rulla Habiby’s Paintings captures the essence of her hometown Haifa and her husband’s hometown, Nazareth.  Vivian D’s paintings are expressive with clear message. Her companion pieces tell a complete story of her Iraqi background and her life as an American.  Hiba Alyawer’s paintings give abstract art a whole new meaning.  Her life under Saddam, escaping as a child with her family to Kuwait and later settling in the U.S are well defined in her artwork. The Mixture of the Middle East and East Tennessee is well defined in this one of a kind first time ever Art Exhibit.

Artists Featuring:

Hiba Alyawer
Hiba’s passionate expression of feelings, thoughts and outlook on life began at a young age.  She often painted images from her active imagination on scraps of cardboard and newspaper. Born along the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq, her family soon thereafter relocated to Kuwait in response to Saddam’s rise to power. Many of her paintings were first sketched while she sat beside her family and neighbors in a basement in Kuwait during Desert Storm’s bombing campaign. Hiba vividly recalls her only mental refuge from the earth rattling bombing, and the skies being painted with various bullet colors was her sketch pad and her pencil. What she lacked in paint she made up for in vision and memory of deep feelings of  love for those she knew, fear of the unknown, and the yearn to escape to a more colorful border-less reality.

In 1992, Hiba immigrated to the United States with her family. The years in her new home proved to be the most impactful on her vision, and seeing the Gulf War through the eyes of the teenager served as a launching pad for future paintings, where she developed a trademark contemporary abstract style with her use of brilliant colors, creative shapes, and curved lines. Artist Statement: “My paintings represent human struggle for perfection, but nothing is perfect, as seen in my lines. My artwork shows the paradox between the desire to reach perfection and the unattainable reality.  We mold and shape as the occasions change, which gives me infinite possibilities to be expressed on the canvas.  For me, it’s about shapes, colors, and lines relating to each other. While the lines translate my own personal experiences, color says a lot about my mood as I paint.  I’m intrigued by the power of color and give a great deal of thought to what I use in a painting. I always start a painting with red even if it will become green or blue later. I have a sensation that my hand is guided by colors. My emotions are expressed by transposing the energy inside of me onto the canvas. Scratches and splashes of paint represent life’s unexpected surprises, and most importantly, the different realities that we all face.. The shapes are coming…they take my identity…while I am breathing through my fingers.”

Instagram: @artbyhibaa

Rulla Habiby
Rulla Habiby is an abstract and figurative painter. She also has experience in Graphic Design and studied Accounting. She is an Esthetician, Makeup Artist and a Former Department Manager for Cosmetics and Fragrance at Dillard’s Department Store. Rulla has three adult children. She believes her greatest job was raising her children and watching them grow into the caring, intelligent, and special people they are today.

She was born and raised in Haifa, Israel. After two years into her marriage, Rulla and her family moved to Nazareth where they lived for many years until moving to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2003. Early in her years, Rulla showed a passion and talent for painting. Her paintings are characterized by bold and dramatic colors, combined into a fluid harmony. Rulla believes she can paint her life onto the canvas. She can mix her own color, her own feelings, her own soul and in her own way. She identifies as a Palestinian-Israeli-American, hoping for peace. Her unique background brings together the East and the West into a dazzling blend.

She is a loving daughter, wife, mother, and Teta (grandmother). She loves good coffee and a bright, early morning.

Vivian Nersa
Currently works in sales/marketing at Wyndham Hotel Group in Las Vegas, Nevada. Studied Interior Design and Fine Art at Keane University in Union, New Jersey. Vivian Dakak has been painting for over 40 years. She has a Degree in Art & Design from NJ College and has experience painting/sculpting in various forms & fashions. She has worked as an Interior Designer for Model homes for top builders on the West Coast. Born in Baghdad, Vivian was encouraged by her Mother to pursue her natural talent. Her talent has been greatly influenced by her many years living abroad as a child/young adult. The love, passion & skill run deeper than the colors on her canvas; Vivian comes from a long line of Artists and Sculptures.  Many of her Uncle’s Religious Artwork & Sculptures can be found in Churches throughout Beirut & Baghdad.

Photography Featuring:

Dean Rice
In 2015, Knoxville native Dean Rice traveled to Jordan to visit Zaatari refugee camp in order to meet with Syrians in exile. He wanted to hear their stories first-hand and use photography to help share these stories with the West. He serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information. Rice is also Chief of Staff to Knox County Mayor, Tim Burchett.

Cultural photography is one of Dean’s interest and has taken him to multiple countries trying to capture images of unique or disappearing people groups. In 2013, Rice received the Society of Universal Dialogue’s Atlantic Institute “Peace Award” in recognition of his efforts to promote intercultural engagement and dialogue. Artist Statement: “I’m not Syrian, but I am human. These children are our children and they will one day be Syria’s leaders. As you look at each face as yourself how do you do want that individual to remember us – As agents of change or agents of silence? In a world shaped by barrel bombs there is little in between.”

Sam Mishu
Since 1982, Sam Mishu has been the owner, president of M&M development Company. Since its inception, M&M development has developed more than a hundred shopping centers and office buildings in seven states, from the big cities to the small towns. Sam’s interest in photography grew over time and it became a hobby he enjoyed more and more over time.  His expertise in the field and his love of nature and travels have produced superb photographs of historical and iconic places from all over the world. Sam, uses his photographic talents to help non-profits organizations by donating his arts to fundraising events.     

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