By Ahlam Abdul-Rahman
 
Artist Manal Deeb presents a twist to modern art through her combination of digital art and calligraphy. Her art not only portrays the barriers and endless struggles Palestinians experience on a daily basis, but also addresses other social issues. One can say that her art echoes the voice of the people. She shakes the walls and the stiff shackles that society imposes on minorities and gender roles. Her use of calligraphy allows her to incorporate culture, language, and religion and their impact on society. 
 
Inside, everyone is an artist—free to roam, collect and create. Manal has found her facet of self expression, a self-created quiet and safe place, where she can express the trauma of the Palestinian diaspora. Her healing process consists of this art-making process.
 
As an artist, Manal Deeb believes in no limits on self expression. She also strongly believes in liberating women and empowering them to touch and reflect aspects that challenge social taboos and misconceptions. Being a Palestinian-American woman, Manal’s art empowers the “Other” by preserving aspects of the Palestinian culture and experience in a modern and effective way. Palestinian women in Manal’s art deconstruct the stereotype of being silenced by both the dominating Western power and masculine authorities they encounter throughout life. Each woman is left to tell a story of her own.
 
Women freely express their memories, desires, and sexuality throughout her works. Desire, culture, religion and the dream for freedom are suffused onto her canvas to portray a Palestinian refugee’s thirst for liberation. The use of calligraphy and parts of cultural and religious texts project the woman’s growth of spirituality. When looked at collectively, the women in the art pieces are able to unify and lead each other, and from this action are able to gain the strength to fight stereotypes, war, oppression, and tragedy.
 
The sharp features the women encompass provoke audience members to look harder at the picture—Manal’s exact purpose. Her work withholds the depths and secrets only she can reveal. Her pieces unravel stories of hope, love, and despair. Manal exhales through their creation…emphasizing a Palestinian’s existence and determination.
For Manal Deeb, thought serves as the blossom of her artwork, passion is the seed, and art is the fruit. Her use of bark, earth, and branches not only celebrates Earth and her homeland’s beauty, but life itself. The complexity, detail, and style of her digital collages serve to define her as a unique, modern, and empowering woman. 
 
Images in this post: “Holographic Memories” 2015 - digital artwork (upper left), “Revealing Memories” 2014 - mixed media painting (lower right)
 
Ahlam Abdul-Rahman received her B.A. in English Literature and Government from the California State University at Sacramento (CSUS) in Dec., 2013. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Literary Criticism at CSUS.  Ahlam has taken part in several community service projects and organized events throughout  her college years. Some include creating public awareness on domestic violence against women, the Arab Israe-li struggle, and the necessity of promoting peace despite societal stereotypes and differences.
 
Manal Deeb is a Palestinian American visual artist based in the Washington, D.C. area.  Manal has had solo and group exhibits in Paris, Washington, D.C., New York City, London, Dallas, Boston, Cairo, Metz (France), San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago.  Her artwork is a reflection of her original identity as an Arab/Palestinian female and the contradiction in coping with the social living in the US and raising three daughters.  She has contributed artwork for the causes of Arab females, women’s rights in general, and the Palestinian cause.  Manal studied studio arts at UI-Chicago and interdisciplinary psychology of art at GMU in Fairfax, VA.  More information about her work can be found at www.manaldeeb.com.