Art allows people to connect with the most vulnerable parts of themselves and express themselves fully. Minnesota artist Hend Al-Mansour’s upcoming exhibition at Project 410 in downtown Mankato allowed him to do just that.
Al-Mansour discovered that she was compelled to make art at a very young age and as she grew up, her passion for art did too.
“I was into art as a kid and it continued with me as I was doing art all the time,” Al-Mansour said. “I was born with the desire to make art.”
Al-Mansour uses a variety of motifs in his works. His favorite type of art is creating and designing lines, such as outline drawings of humans. While she started out drawing and painting, she later moved on to installation pieces with raw canvas and burlap.
“I started painting inside the lines with watercolors, acrylics and oils and played with all of these mediums. Later I moved on to…doing prints and covering them with fabric, which is another use of lines,” Al-Mansour said. “Skills with lines are versatile.”
Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Al-Mansour’s inspiration comes from Islamic art. Al-Mansour’s physical inspiration comes from Sadu, woven tent designs, and Qatt, a type of mural making; both styles of art specifically created by women. She finds spiritual inspiration in celebrating the power of women.
“I tend to go back and study powerful women in Islam and goddesses and positive images of the feminine and bring that into life today,” Al-Mansour said. “Coming from Saudi Arabia, I felt firsthand the oppression and oppression of women. Where I came from was intolerable, that’s why I left.
One of Al-Mansour’s favorite pieces to be displayed in the gallery is called ‘Khadijah’, a blue and gold piece that depicts the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife pregnant with their daughter, Fatima. The piece is what is commonly seen in mosques and other Islamic mosaics. Both Khadijah and Fatima are role models for Al-Mansour.
“In my opinion, without [Khadijah], there would be no Islam, no religion. She was a great support for [Muhammad] and a wise woman who was very generous,” Al-Mansour shared. “They are very powerful and they were leaders in their community.”
Coming from St. Paul, Al-Mansour was drawn to exhibiting her art at Project 410 because she had never exhibited her work in southern Minnesota before.
“I’ve been to Mankato many times, but I’ve never interacted with a Mankato crowd, so I’m very excited to see how they’ll receive me and how I’ll interact with them,” Al-Mansour shared. “I like going to meet the public and it’s an opportunity [to meet] new people.”
Al-Mansour hopes viewers of his gallery will gain a sense of unity and understanding through his works.
“I want viewers to relate and identify with women of color, especially Arab-American women and feel the camaraderie between women everywhere in their calling,” Al-Mansour shared. “I want men and other audiences to recognize and make them think of other peoples and other cultures as equals.”
The exhibition of paintings and prints by Hend Al-Mansour opens on April 1 and will be open at Project 410 until April 16.
Header photo: St. Paul artist Hend Al-Mansour draws inspiration for her works from Saudi artistic styles created by women and former Islamic women whom she considers role models. (Courtesy picture)
Write to: Emma Johnson at [email protected]