American Landscape (August 27 – September 17)

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A solo show featuring the work of Mousa with selected works spanning 5 years of development.

Using orange as a color representative of fear, Mousa’s mixed-media American LandscapeSeries takes up the fraught politics of LGBTQ rights in America. He employs the color’s long association with post-9/11 security threats – Code Orange (emergency code), even though in Europe and America prior to 9/11, orange had very positive connotations, like warmth, sweetness, and high energy. In Buddhism, orange is the color of illumination, indicating strength and wisdom. Mousa, however, uses it to add a disquieting sense of alarm to his work. Applied with scratchy, frantic marks, the color connotes both fire and blood. It lends urgency to an issue that’s intensely personal for Mousa, a gay man subject to right-wing, pro-family ideologies that compromise the queer community’s civil rights. The panels feature same sex figures linking hands – in pairs, rows, and even formations that build up the stars and stripes of the American flag. Combining them with other potent signifiers of American culture, the series provides important commentary on civil rights in the United States.

Mousa (Nabil Mousa), b. 1966 in Syria. Lives and works in Atlanta, GA.

Born in Syria and raised in the United States, Mousa incorporates the cultural tensions of both countries into his practice, combining them with his own personal convictions. While earlier examples of his work strictly appropriate Middle Eastern and Mediterranean design motifs, more recent examples relax them, allowing for looser representations that symbolize his new life in the United States. Politics is omnipresent in Mousa’s work.

This is not to say, however, that personal struggle is in any way diminished for Mousa. Mousa’s vested interest in all aspects of life has been the common thread in all of his works. Raised in a conservative Christian household, Mousa is always pitting socio-religious oppression with self-realization, from his earliest works examining the Muslim niqab to his more recent series inviting Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike to come together in creative reflection over 9/11.

Using color in unexpected ways, Mousa lets intuition and affect guide his oeuvre. His work is always framed by hope for greater equality, no matter how naïve or impossible that might seem in the face of ever-challenging political and religious difference.