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Art Under Occupation: Palestinian-Canadian artist Hanny Khoury talks art, identity, and belonging

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Palestinian-Canadian artist Hanny Khoury has spent years thoughtfully exploring his identity, trying to establish his understanding of what it means to be Palestinian.Art has always been his lifeline, an outlet where he channels frustrations and emotions, seeking a means of representing his past in a way that empathizes with an international audience. From Palestine to Canada, his journey has been difficult and encouraging, a true redemption arc that’s far from over.

Khoury grew up in a small village in historical Palestine-one of six children-under the Israeli occupation. As far back as he can remember, his identity, and the identities of his family and neighbors, were conflated with the information being spread by the occupation. “You are a Palestinian, a minority living under occupation. The environment is weird, nothing is clear.You can’t identify yourself and you don’t grow up with a clear identity that’s solid,” says Khoury.“From school to the media, the occupation is basically programming your brain, to make you forget your identity.”

Art was the one thing that could ground Khoury to something tangible. It was a means of coping with the instability of his daily life and allowed him to express his confusion. As he describes, it was a means of creating an entirely new world: “It’s like I was creating my own environment, my own life, the way I wanted it to be. With time, art became a healing process for me. It became the one thing through which I rebuild the relationship with everything around me and make peace with it. Heal it. That’s how art spoke to me. Art became like food for me, or water.”Even when his parents struggled to afford necessities, his mother would use soil and flowers to make natural pigments he could paint with. Walls, doors, broken pieces of wood-anything could serve as a canvas in Khoury’s eyes.

Eventually, after years of tension, both internally and with his environment, he made his way to Canada. This fresh start opened his mind, and he finally found the space and time to focus on his practice. It was during this period that he began to consider the parameters of being a Palestinian artist in a contemporary context. As a child, Khoury’s sources of artistic inspiration were limited to what was acceptable under the occupation. Names from Western art history, like Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, were tolerable, but examples of Palestinian art were scarce. “Back then, I didn’t have anything that made me a Palestinian artist. I got this sense of belonging later in life, through my own research. I developedan awareness about our existence as Palestinians and then my art started to belong to the history and the story of Palestine. Before that, I didn’t have the opportunity to learn that information,” says Khoury.

Through his studies and careful research, Khoury began to form his own idea about the critical difference between being a Palestinian artist and producing Palestine art. “I think the Palestinian story of identity loss, it had its own time,” he explains.“Silman Mansour, Nabil Anani, Ismail Shammout-those artists had to do it because they had to construct their identity and the identity of the Palestinian people.  For us, as the young generation in or from Palestine, we must do something different. We have to work with an international language, while still belonging to the Palestinian identity.” Khoury’s search for identity is also a search for expression, finding a way to leverage Palestinian form to resonate on an international, even universal, level.

Currently represented by Mark Hachem Gallery, Khoury’s work is set to make an impression on audiences around the world. He has already made great strides with his ability to translate his own experiences into a visual, emotionallanguage that anyone can connect with. “What I have suffered in my life, the experiences, the journey I had in Palestine-this is what developed my international language of art. This is where it came from. The figures, the colors, the balance. Everything that makes up my work is Palestinian, but the figures themselves aren’t necessarily Palestinian,” he explains. “Art is translating the time period that we live in, visually.The modern world of art is not translating specific moments, it’s translating specific emotions. We talk about our conflicts, our difficulties, our pain, the system. That’s what we talk about as artists. So, when we look at art, it should deliver emotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with belonging to the physical world. It can be connected to the emotional world, or faith.” Confident and passionate, Khoury is forging ahead with a new vision of what Palestinian art could be, offering the next generation of young artists what he was denied growing up: an inspirational figure.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Lifestyle

5 Dangerous Leading Causes of Pedestrian Injuries

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The public sphere is filled with thousands upon thousands of pedestrians, especially in crowded cities. While being out in public is typically perfectly safe, some actions can put you into dangerous situations and legally sketchy territory. By understanding the types of actions that lead to pedestrian accidents, you can do your best to effectively avoid them. To assist you, here are five of the most dangerous leading causes of pedestrian injuries: 

1. Substance Abuse

Intoxication can lead people to do dangerous things and can make us unaware of the environment around us. Every day, intoxicated individuals find themselves either harming someone, or themselves, through a pedestrian accident. You’ll walk less safely, and have poor judgment when intoxicated, so you’re more likely to ignore traffic rules, and go onto properties that are shut off and unsafe. If you or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian accident due to an intoxicated individual’s actions, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. For those suffering from addiction and abuse issues, there is help out there that can guide you through defeating your addiction cycle. 

2. Being on the Road

Being a pedestrian on a roadway is incredibly dangerous. You should stay off the roadways at all times unless you are using a legal and clearly-marked crossing. Otherwise, you put yourself, and everyone else on the road, at risk. Being considerate, and staying aware of your surroundings, is crucial, after all. Not only is being on the roadways as a walking pedestrian illegal, but it can cause you to suffer serious bodily harm. Even at slow speeds, being hit by a vehicle can cause immense, life-changing injuries (and even death). No matter what situation you’re in, you should steer clear of the roadways if you’re not in a vehicle. 

3. Improper Crossings

Part of staying safe as a pedestrian is following the traffic laws that are set up to protect you. When you’re at a crosswalk or some other type of crossing area, you need to follow signs and signals perfectly. Even if you think you can get across the road before any vehicle comes, you may be misjudging how much time you actually have. Not only will you be putting drivers in a hazardous scenario (along with yourself), but if you’re improperly crossing, you’ll be breaking the law. Jaywalking is often seen as no big deal, but there’s a reason it’s against the law. You’re causing chaos that’s preventable, and which can put yourself and others at risk of serious injury. 

4. Poor Visibility 

You’ve likely noticed that nearly every public space that you’d want to be in is properly lit. There’s a reason for that. Poorly lit public areas are a major safety risk, and people who are harmed due to a poorly lit public space can sometimes bring litigation against the property owner. When a space is not properly lit, it makes pedestrians targets for criminals and makes it difficult for pedestrians to see where they’re going. A lack of visibility greatly increases the chance of slip and fall accidents, as well as other dangerous happenings. Staying in well-lit public areas will help keep you safe from accidents, and people who would harm you if given the chance. 

5. Reckless Behavior 

There are few actions pedestrians can engage in that are as devastating and potentially dangerous as general reckless behavior. Running, fighting, and other forms of being belligerent in public spaces can cause huge disruptions and even injuries. Additionally, this type of disruptive, aggressive conduct is against the law in many states. These laws are set up to prevent unstable or aggressive individuals from creating a toxic or threatening atmosphere in public spaces. It’s always important to treat your environment, and fellow human beings with respect, after all. By acting appropriately, and even-headed, you’re also able to understand your immediate surroundings more effectively, which helps protect you from any dangerous behavior from fellow pedestrians. 

Keep Public Spaces Safe

By avoiding these five types of disruptive and dangerous behavior, you can do your part to keep our country safe. When you’re injured through the reckless or illegal actions of another person, a quality pedestrian accident lawyer can help you find the justice and restitution that you deserve. Meanwhile, you must behave in a way that keeps other members of the public feeling safe, secure, and at peace. Doing so will help keep you out of trouble, and prevent you from suffering serious injuries in a pedestrian accident. 

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