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Guide to the Salwa Mikdadi Papers AD.MC.022


New York University Abu Dhabi Library

Collection processed by Brad Bauer, Robert Gordon, Muhammad Shehryar Hamid

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on December 18, 2019
eng using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The Salwa Mikdadi papers consist of correspondence, biographical documents, photographs, and audio- and video-recordings, documenting the lives and works of modern Arab artists in the Middle East and in the Arab diaspora, as well as materials that document museum exhibitions of the works of Arab artists in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Much of the materials originated from the activities of Mikdadi, an art historian and curator, as well as the non-profit organization that she founded, the International Council on Women Artists (or ICWA), whose aim was to promote and make more widely accessible the works of modern Arab artists.

The Salwa Mikdadi papers are grouped into several series based on the activities of the ICWA, as well as the formats of the materials. Chief among these groups are the dossiers on individual artists that Mikdadi began compiling prior to the formation of the ICWA, and which make up Series 1, "Artists files (individual)." Arranged alphabetically by name, these files often contain biographical information about a given artist, including information about his or her exhibitions, press coverage, resumes of their work, as well as correspondence between the artist and Mikdadi or her colleagues at the ICWA, and images of the artists' most representative works, often in the form of color photographic slides, but also as postcards, photo prints, tear sheets from magazines, or other formats. Taken together, these files provide a comprehensive resource about hundreds of artists, active from the mid-to-late 20th century into the first decade of the 21st century, and ranging from the well-known to the little-known, who either lived and practiced in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, or who had emigrated and were active in the diaspora, primarily in Europe and North America, but also in other parts of the world.

A similar series of files, Series 2, "Artists and Exhibitions (group)," contains materials about artists arranged by country or geographic region, with the difference being that since there may not have been as much information about a given artist, such materials were then grouped into files identified by an artist's country of origin. This series also contains files about galleries, exhibitions, and special projects as well, each of which often containing information about several artists.

Further materials related to the activities of the ICWA are grouped into Series 3. Included in this series are documents related to the administration of ICWA, including activity reports, newsletters, public relations materials, and databases of artists that they worked with or whose work they tracked. The sub-series for correspondence consists primarily of correspondence with artists, and with cultural and artistic organizations. Noteworthy in this series are files of correspondence with Queen Noor al-Hussein of Jordan, who headlined a benefit for the "Forces of Change" exhibition in Washington in 1993, and Princess Wijdan Ali of Jordan, an artist and patron of the arts who played a substantial role in supporting ICWA and its activities. Another sub-series for events and organizations groups together materials related to the role of ICWA or Mikdadi in promoting artistic events or collaborations with other cultural non-profit organizations. There is some overlap between organizations in which Mikdadi was active as a representative of ICWA, and those in which she was personally active, including educational and advocacy organizations that worked on behalf of Arab-Americans. The "Permissions" sub-series documents the role that ICWA played in licensing the use of works of art from Arab artists in publications. The final two sub-series, "Projects, research, and miscellaneous" and "Resources and subjects" contain materials about other projects beyond art exhibitions that Mikdadi or ICWA particpated in, such as journal or encyclopedia articles, or reference works about art; as well as background materials used by Mikdadi in her research.

The next series, "Exhibitions," provides detailed documentation of the planning, design, construction, and reception of exhibitions curated by Mikdadi related to modern Arab art, most notably "Forces of Change" (1994-1996), but also "Rhythm and Form" (1996-1997), "Artists View: the Arab World" (1997), "In/Visible," one of the inaugural exhibitions of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan (2005); and the first Palestine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2009).

These include materials related to the conception, design, creation, and critical reception of several exhibitions of the works of Arab artists, the chief one being "Forces of Change." Other activities, such as the function of the ICWA as a clearinghouse for providing images of the works of contemporary Arab artists to publishers and the media, are documented in this series as well.

The remaining series of the collection are comprised of video and audio recordings, most of which are related to artists and events documented in the previous series, but grouped into separate series due to their format. Among these are interviews conducted by Mikdadi or others of individual artists, as well as interviews and events in conjunction with the "Forces of Change" exhibition. Also included are a group of files, under "Other activities," documenting Mikdadi's role as a curator, educator, and arts administrator following her move to the United Arab Emirates in 2008, including her projects with the Emirates Foundation and the Tourism and Culture Authority of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.