Jamelie Hassan

“Hassan’s work generates the expansive feeling that artists have the moral right to address anything. Working out of the small city of London, Ontario, Hassan creates permissions for other artists, especially those from outside major art world centres, to sidestep the problem of provincial art versus the dominant trends in favour of an engagement with wider problems.” – Cliff Eyland

Jamelie Hassan is a visual artist, writer, lecturer, activist, and independent curator, born in London, Ontario, where she continues to live and practice. Hassan’s parents came to Canada from Lebanon, and she grew up in an Arabic-speaking household as the seventh of eleven children. Hassan is known for her powerful interdisciplinary work that addresses the conflicting subjectivities arising from the disjuncture between the two cultures in which she exists. She describes her legacy in London as “an extraordinary well-informed interest in problems of culture and ordinary people’s sufferings in a brutal world”.

Hassan studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Rome (1967), École des Beaux-Arts, Beyrouth, Lebanon (1968), the University of Windsor, Ontario (1969), and University of Mustansyria, Baghdad (1978-79). Hassan established a studio in London, Ontario after completing her studies in Beirut. She recalls that it was the education that she received while in Beirut that first brought her attention to the political movements occurring in different parts of the world and the necessity of forming alliances with dispossessed and disenfranchised communities. An awareness of the political climate in China, Africa, Cuba, and Mexico in the 1960s not only ignited Hassan’s desire to travel, but also galvanized her voice as both an activist and artist. Consequently, Hassan demands an increased understanding from her viewers and incites a call to action on issues that may not directly affect them.

Upon returning to Canada after living and traveling in Lebanon and Europe for several years, travel became a primary influence on Hassan’s work. She traveled to Cuba shortly after with a desire to see a country that had been engaged in a revolution. She experienced the tension rising in Nicaragua six months before the revolution and the upheaval of the Somoza regime. From then on, she was drawn towards situations involving conflict that would come to shape the bodies of work produced upon her return home. Hassan says that when she returns home from these places of conflict, it is as though she restores herself through engagement in labour-intensive work.

Hassan’s approach to her practice is multidisciplinary, including drawing, watercolour painting, ceramics, sculpture, and installation, as well as photography, film, and video. Her diverse, multi-media works deal with questions of colonialism, patriarchy, militarism, censorship, sexuality and cultural identity. Hassan has travelled and worked extensively within Canada, the United States, Mexico, Cuba, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Despite such far-reaching and extended periods of travel, Hassan has remained actively involved as a leader in the London, Ontario arts community for over thirty years. She boasts an impressive resume of activism and community building. She has been involved in many Canadian artist-run centres and was a founding member of the Forest City Gallery, London (1973), and the Embassy Cultural House, London (1983-1990).

Hassan has served on advisory panels and art juries for the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.  She was also on the advisory panel for to the federal government ,”The Minister’s Forum on Culture and Diversity,” in the Spring of 2003. This involved over a year of commitment on the panel with cross-country travel, attending community meetings in different cities. The forum, held at the Museum of Civilization (now Museum of History), produced a report with recommendations.

She is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the “Canada 125” medal for outstanding community service, and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2001. In 2001, Hassan was an advisor for two community arts programs in London, Ontario – OpenAir, a public art project, and Gathering of Good Minds, a First Nations cultural program.

She continues to maintain a thriving art practice and exhibition schedule.

Biography by Kelsey Perreault

 

Sources:

Bradley, Jessica, Diana Nemiroff, and The National Gallery of Canada. Songs of Experience: Chants d’expérience. Ottawa, Ontario: National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, 1986.

Eyland, Cliff. “Primer for War,” from Jamelie Hassan: At the Far Edge of Words. London, Ontario: Museum London; Vancouver, British Columbia: The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, 2009. Exhibition catalogue.

Laura Horne-Gaul, Laura and Lee Gaul. “De-briefing Dar’a/Full Circle.” Tussle Magazine, April 3, 2017.  https://www.tusslemagazine.com/jamelie-hassan.

 

CV Courtesy of Jamelie Hassan

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