Contemporary artists from the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and their diasporas have a new venue for showing work in Santa Fe.
East of West, which opens on December 15, is dedicated to amplifying artists’ voices, shifting negative narratives and stereotypes and helping bridge gaps between communities.
It’s the brainchild of L.E. Brown, who has been fascinated by contemporary art in the Middle East for years. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz who studied art history and religion in college, Brown spent a semester studying in Turkey and another semester working in the country.
She moved to Santa Fe in February 2016 and worked at several galleries in town before deciding to start her own gallery.
“I met a few of my artists when I was in Turkey, but I also found many others on Instagram,” Brown explains. “A lot of these artists are known in other countries but have never had representation for their work in the U.S.”
Among the gallery artists are:
Madiha Siraj, a Muslim/American artist from Dayton, Ohio who creates multi-media paintings, sculptures and installations that are based on traditional Islamic geometry as seen through a contemporary lens.
Onur Ada, A Turkish artist now living in Istanbul, who reinterprets astronomical events that occurred thousands of light years away in his digital art and 3D modeling.
Nasreen Shaikh Jamal al Lail, a Saudi/British artist in the U.K. who explores her multi-faceted identity through layered photography.
Younes Zemmouri, who lives and works in Algeria and playfully examines censorship and how it is often associated with Islam and those who speak Arabic.
In addition to displaying limited edition prints, photography and mixed media paintings, East of West devotes one room in the gallery to video installations. Brown also has set aside a space for a lending library containing books on Middle Eastern, African and Asian art.
A plan is already in the works to bring an Iranian artist to Santa Fe for an artist-in-residence program.
“I want to help diversify the arts in Santa Fe,” Brown adds.