Art of Healing – Saluting the Heroes – Moosa Badar Al Balushi’s face lit up when Greta C Holtz, US ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, congratulated the visually challenged sculptor for displaying two of his excellent works at the ‘Art & Healing’ show at the Ambassador’s residence.
“Thank you for inviting me for the exhibition. It is a great honour,” Moosa, who became the cynosure of all eyes during the evening thanks to his porcelain works of Arabian Oryx and Omani Rose Water Sprinkler, immediately returned the compliments with a broad smile. Safiya Al Bahlani, who carved a niche for herself in digital art despite being born without arms, and Rua Ahmed Al Farazi, a decorative drawing expert who moves around on a wheelchair, couldn›t agree more. “We are honoured to get an opportunity to showcase our works at the US Ambassador’s residence,” they said.
With Ambassador Holtz playing a perfect host, her residence turned into an art gallery as dignitaries paid rich tributes to the artists who created outstanding and moving works despite physical and emotional challenges. Works by seven American artists _ Stephen Proski, Sam Sadtler, Krista Kuskye, Jacob Brown, Dimelza Broche, Naima Kazmi and Stephanie Bachiero _ and eight pieces from Ibrahim Gailani’s biweekly retreats were also displayed in the exhibition.
“I am inspired by the strength of character and will power of these artists to create truly outstanding pieces of art. It is a pleasure and honour to be able to display them at my home,” said Holtz.
The US Embassy teamed up with Muscat-based artist Ibrahim Gailani for the show which was part of Art in Embassies programme. “Art in Embassies is managed by the US Department of State to showcase American artists in U.S. ambassadors’ homes around the world,” said Holtz.
Gailani, who selected the works by Omani artists, said the exhibition celebrated the art of people who tide over physical and emotional challenges. “We looked at the quality of work and the story of triumph while selecting pieces.”
While looking at the works of the Omani artists, many wondered how the threesome overcame physical disabilities and made a mark in their chosen career. “I depend on my sense of touch, imagination and the description of objects from people around me to sculpt porcelain pieces. My visual disability has not prevented me from pursuing my hobby,” Moosa revealed.
Safiya felt that artists should be judged by the quality of their work and not by their physical disabilities. “I don’t want to earn a name as a disabled artist, but I want to be known as artist Safiya. We need more exhibitions to showcase our works.”
Rua is the only artist in the region who practices ornamental art work using black pen. “I spent a lot of time in the morning to perfect my skills. I am happy to be known as an artist,” she said. Gailani believed the artists were reaping the dividends of the hard work they put in to perfect their skills.
“Moosa’s sculpts have distinct Arabic touch, Ruwa’s skills with pen and ink are superb and Safiya has created art in a new way. Their presence enriched the Art & Heal exhibition.”
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