Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates is the first major touring exhibition of Emirati art and features over fifty paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works in other media. The exhibition employs the works of twenty-five notable Emirati artists to tell the story of the rich history, culture, and rapid development of the United Arab Emirates. The diverse group of male and female artists selected for this exhibition represents all seven emirates. Art is central to modern UAE culture, which draws from deep traditions, diverse heritage, and bustling energy linked to the country’s amazing growth and transformation. The Emirates were in fact selected to be the “Featured Guest Country” at the 2015 LA Art Show and selected works from Past Forward will be shown there before coming to the Fowler. Through a varied selection that includes pinhole photographs of soaring skyscrapers, documentation of public performance, and functional design, Past Forward builds a foundation for greater understanding of the UAE.
The exhibition was organized and circulated by Meridian International Center with support from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. Additional support for Past Forward is provided by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, and Etihad Airways. The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Curtis Sandberg, Senior Vice President for Arts and Cultural Programs at the Meridian International Center, and Noor Al Suwaidi, an expert on contemporary Emirati art. The Meridian International Center is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It works with the U.S. Department of State and with government, private, and ngo educational sectors globally to create lasting international partnerships through leadership programs and cultural exchange. For more information: www.meridian.org.