The students of Mosul University's College of Fine Arts showcase their technical and colourful paintings in an exhibition.
Qais Ibrahim, an Iraqi sculptor, worked secretly in his basement during ISIS rule, because his art was seen as polytheism by the radical militants. If caught or arrested, Qais could have potentially lost his life.
After his city, Mosul was liberated from ISIS’ grip, however, the sculptor worked alongside different local and international organisations to reopen the Faculty of Fine Arts in Mosul.
“In those days we were working secretly and in basements. We could not show our work and creativity for fear of our lives,” said Qais. “On this day, we are opening a new exhibition under the name of the Faculty of Fine Arts.”
Under ISIS’ rule, the art department was burned as the militant group considered its content contradictory to their interpretation of Islam. Due to the massive amount of damage that has been done to the faculty, it has taken the sponsoring organisations over a year and a half to rehabilitate some of the main halls and theatres.
The opening ceremony was attended by many officials and diplomats who reiterated their support for the reconstruction of Mosul.
Furthermore, a crisis cell has been formed by those who worked on rehabilitating the Faculty of Fine Arts, which is tasked with continuing the rehabilitation and the reconstruction of the city in coordination with local and international NGOs.
“The crisis cell will continue its work and develop plans for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of this damaged and destroyed city,” said Muzahim al-Khayyat a parliamentarian. “We will coordinate with the central government to provide the necessary support. We will also continue to cooperate with the Reconstruction Fund and the UNDP in this area. “
While many projects have been ongoing in Mosul, the reopening of the Faculty of Fine Arts is a positive sign towards the revival of the city’s cultural heritage. Before ISIS’ invasion, the city of Mosul was known for its rich cultural heritage due to the coexistence of many ethnic and religious groups living peacefully within it.
While this identity was stripped away by ISIS during their invasion, the city is slowly regaining its diverse cultural heritage through the rehabilitation of historical artefacts and the revival of the spirit of art.