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Artist Hend Al-Mansour Aims To Give Women A Voice And A Place

Hend Al-Mansour, a Saudi doctor-turned-artist, has always had a deep-seated passion for art. Her early exposure to art left a lasting impression on her, and she continued to pursue her artistic inclinations throughout her life, despite eventually becoming a doctor.

At the age of 16, Al-Mansour traveled to Cairo to study medicine, and later returned to Saudi Arabia, where she worked as a general practitioner. However, her textbooks were often filled with her own drawings, a testament to her unwavering dedication to her creative pursuits.

Al-Mansour credits her parents for instilling in her a sense of gender equality and the importance of education for women. They believed that women should have their own voices and encouraged all their daughters to pursue education. This upbringing had a profound impact on Al-Mansour's worldview and influenced her artistic practice.

In 1997, Al-Mansour accepted a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, and she has been living in St. Paul, Minnesota ever since. It was there that she made a significant contribution to the local art scene by designing a mural in memory of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis in 2020. Titled "Faces of Minneapolis," the mural featured five women from diverse ethnicities and professions, sitting within a border adorned with Islamic patterns and Minnesota's beautiful flowers. The mural aimed to convey a message of healing and resilience in the face of adversity.

Al-Mansour's artistic practice revolves around the portrayal of women, and she is committed to giving them a prominent place and voice in her work. She refuses to depict women as victims, particularly when representing historical women. Instead, she strives to humanize them and highlight their equality with men. In the past, she has created chamber-like installations with mihrab-shaped openings, allowing viewers to come face-to-face with the depicted female figures. By inviting people into this private space, Al-Mansour aims to create a connection between the viewers and the women she portrays, enabling them to empathize with their experiences and emotions.

Al-Mansour's artistic repertoire encompasses various mediums. Through her art, Al-Mansour challenges traditional gender roles and societal norms, advocating for gender equality and empowering women to have their voices heard.

Despite her unconventional journey from medicine to art, Al-Mansour has found her true calling as an artist. Her work has gained recognition both locally and internationally, and she continues to push boundaries and create thought-provoking art that challenges societal norms and elevates the voices of women. Through her unwavering commitment to her artistic vision, Al-Mansour serves as a trailblazer for female artists in Saudi Arabia and beyond, inspiring others to pursue their passions and create meaningful change through art.

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