On Thursday, June 11, a series of hilltop sculptures were created in the town of Umm al-Fahm as the culmination of the "Open Window Dialogue" coexistence project organized by the Israel Museum
s Youth Wing. First launched in 2007, the project has encouraged creative collaboration between teachers and students from the Arab-Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm and teaching artists from the Israel Museum. Some 2,500 students from Umm al-Fahm have enjoyed day-long guided tours and art workshop at the Museum, together with 300 of their teachers who have participated in Museum training courses and who helped to plan this major community art project.
The metal sculptures, designed by Youth Wing teaching artists Hanan Abu Hussein and Yael Robin, were installed on Mount Iskander in Umm al-Fahm. Each work was painted by local high school students together with students from the Israel Museums High School Art Matriculation Program, inspired by works by Jewish and Arab Israeli artists.
"Open Window Dialogue," with its goal to encourage Arab-Jewish dialogue through cultural cooperation and creative enterprise, underscores the Israel Museums commitment to social outreach and especially through its Youth Wing programming. The project in Umm al-Fahm follows an earlier Israel Museum initiative with students in Kiryat Shemona, near the Lebanese border. After the 2006 military conflict in that region, Youth Wing art instructors and their students worked with students in Kiryat Shemona to create a sculptural forest to beautify municipal parks that had suffered extensive damage during the conflict.
The Open Window Dialogue project has provided many of Umm al-Fahms school children with a first-ever experience in the Museum and a unique opportunity for collaboration between the Umm al-Fahm community and the Museum, in the largest-scale effort to date to engage school children from a single distant community with the Museum. The Museum hopes to build on the success of this project in planning similar initiatives with other communities in the country, especially those with little or no prior connection with the broader museum experience.
Other social outreach project organized by the Youth Wing include: collaborative art projects for Jewish and Arab high school students from Jerusalem; programs for children and families in regions affected by political conflict; and special art courses designed for wounded and disabled soldiers.