On May 20th 2014 the inauguration of the exhibition of the Olive Tree project took place in the community center of WIZO Afula, in the presence of Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson World WIZO Executive.
The project was the outcome of a collaboration between Mrs. Shila Devori Kasdi, art curator, and Mr. David Moatty, Wizo Afula Community Center Director.
The project is a yearlong art program that involves forty women from Afula and surrounding Arab villages. Olive trees are the subject of the exhibit and the uniqueness, personality and perspective of each artist is reflected in the thirty-five oil paintings on show. These women worked together, sharing their life experiences, and cultures to create these unique and symbolic pieces of art.
The women spent hours painting both in the WIZO Afula Community Center and traveling around the country to get inspiration. They painted in one another's neighborhoods, in Emek Israel, and in the Southern Galilee.
At a festive evening, on October 28th , the WIZO Afula Community Center hosted leading individuals from the Belfort Community (a city in north-east France) as a token of the mutual collaboration and close ties between the cities of Afula and Belfort. The artists were introduced to the guests and Amal, one of the Arab artists addressed them on behalf of the group. She is also a sculptor, and her work on a pumpkin is a beautiful expression of this art form. As an important cultural symbol for both Jews and Arabs, the olive tree was the perfect subject for this exhibit. It helped to crystalize a wonderful group of women who utilized painting as the tool to express their emotions, their connection to the olive tree, and the meaning behind this basic part of nature. It is around the olive tree that people from different background, who have converging values, who do not share the same ways of socializing nor thinking have come together to connect to their homeland and to the olive tree.
The paintings have already been exhibited in Mulhouse, France. The women traveled to France together in order to represent their work.
This mission, was graciously hosted by WIZO members, and has succeeded in bringing together people from all walks of life.
The Jewish community in Mulhouse, often considered lethargic, is being inspired by WIZO Mulhouse's groundbreaking efforts. Bringing Arab and Jewish women together through art is exciting the community of Mulhouse.
The artwork was presented in the main church which is located in the city center. It brought together people from different religions and backgrounds including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze.
Attending the exhibition was the Mayor of Mulhouse, members of the city council, the priest of the church, and Presidents of WIZO Federations from seven cities throughout Europe. Countries included Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Britain, and Holland.
A mission of this nature has a tremendous impact on all WIZO and non-WIZO communities throughout Europe. The visit gave the WIZO members the opportunity to see first-hand the impact of their efforts and motivated them to continue their work.
This week, the exhibition will move to Belfort and then to Paris.
On the second evening of Hanukah, the Municipality of Paris will host the women at an event in the City Hall.
Moreover, in light of the current situation in Israel, the women have agreed not to let this interfere with their mission. Together, they have agreed that they will not listen to news broadcasts. This is a testament to the strength and positive relationships established through this project.