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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

How Dan Helmer is Inspiring Virginia’s Next Generation

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Virginia’s future depends on nurturing and empowering its next generation of leaders. Dan Helmer is the visionary leader committed to mentoring and supporting future leaders to ensure a brighter tomorrow for all Virginians. With his extensive background in military service and public office, Helmer brings a wealth of experience, dedication, and a passion for guiding young talent.

Mentoring and Supporting Future Leaders

Dan Helmer’s approach to leadership emphasizes the importance of mentorship and support for the youth. His policies focus on providing educational opportunities, fostering innovation, promoting civic engagement, and creating pathways for young leaders to thrive.

A Proven Mentor and Leader

Helmer’s distinguished career in the United States Army, where he served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has equipped him with a profound sense of duty, resilience, and leadership. These qualities have been instrumental in his work as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, where he consistently champions initiatives that empower and inspire young Virginians.

Educational Opportunities for All

Education is fundamental to Helmer’s vision for a prosperous Virginia. He advocates for increased funding for public schools, competitive salaries for teachers, and expanded access to early childhood education. Helmer also champions vocational training programs that equip students with practical skills for high-demand jobs. By prioritizing education, Helmer ensures that Virginia’s youth are prepared for future challenges.

Investing in Educators:

  • Helmer believes that teachers are key to the success of the education system. He supports policies that provide educators with the resources they need to excel, ensuring that students receive the highest quality education possible.

Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Helmer understands that fostering innovation is crucial for future success. He supports initiatives that encourage young entrepreneurs, provide access to startup capital, and create mentorship programs. Helmer’s vision includes modernizing infrastructure, expanding broadband access, and investing in emerging industries to create opportunities for young innovators.

Supporting Young Entrepreneurs:

  • Helmer is dedicated to empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs. He advocates for policies that provide financial assistance, reduce regulatory burdens, and offer resources for innovation and growth.

Promoting Civic Engagement

Helmer believes that civic engagement is essential for a healthy democracy. He encourages young Virginians to get involved in their communities, understand the political process, and take on leadership roles. Helmer’s initiatives aim to foster a sense of responsibility and active participation among the youth.

Engaging Youth in Politics:

  • Helmer supports programs that educate young people about civic duties and encourage them to participate in local government, ensuring they have a voice in shaping their communities.

Creating Pathways for Leadership

Helmer is committed to creating pathways for young leaders to emerge and succeed. He supports mentorship programs, leadership training, and opportunities for youth to engage with experienced leaders. Helmer’s vision includes building networks that connect young talent with mentors who can guide and support their development.

Leadership Development Programs:

  • Helmer advocates for programs that provide young people with leadership skills, practical experience, and the support they need to become effective leaders in their communities.

Inspiring Virginia’s Future Leaders

Dan Helmer’s leadership is characterized by his unwavering commitment to mentoring and supporting the next generation of Virginians. His progressive approach to governance and dedication to youth empowerment set him apart as a leader who truly understands the importance of investing in future leaders. Helmer’s focus on education, innovation, civic engagement, and leadership development reflects his deep commitment to the well-being and success of all Virginians.

As Virginia looks toward the future, the need for leaders like Dan Helmer is clear. His blend of military discipline, public service dedication, and visionary thinking makes him the ideal candidate to inspire and guide the next generation. Elect Helmer, and his leadership promises not just to address immediate challenges but to create lasting, positive change that will benefit generations to come. With Dan Helmer at the helm, Virginia is poised for a future defined by strong leadership, innovation, and opportunity for all.

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