MEI Art Gallery presents "Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE" in partnership with The NYUAD Art Gallery

Alaa Edris, States, 2016. Digital C print, 65 x 90 cm, series of 7. Courtesy of the artist.

Exhibit of 12 artists marks the UAE’s Golden Jubilee and its 50th anniversary message of inclusivity and collaboration

Press Release

The Middle East Institute (MEI) Arts and Culture Center, in partnership with The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery, is proud to announce the opening of Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE on Friday, December 3, 2021 at the MEI Art Gallery at 1763 N Street NW, Washington DC. Marking the UAEs’ 50th anniversary, the exhibition brings together 12 artists whose different concepts, mediums and backgrounds, reflect the United Arab Emirates’s diverse contemporary art scene.

This exhibition, conceptualized by independent Abu Dhabi-based curator, Munira Al Sayegh, introduces an intergenerational dialogue between artists who explore their social, cultural, and natural landscapes. With roots in the Gulf, the Levant, Southeast Asia and the United States, the artists -  all of whom call the UAE home - examine themes around permanence and fluidity, time and memory through a range of subjects such as the environment, consumerism and the impact of rapid urbanization on individuals and societies. In the process, they offer a sample of the multi-faceted community of practitioners contributing to the UAE’s dynamic cultural output.

“I have chosen works that combine playful irreverence alongside a rigorous investigation of a vibrant UAE from the perspective of different nationalities who make it their home,” said curator Munira Al Sayegh. “In the process, this exhibit challenges standard narratives of the Emirates and speaks to the intricacies present  in the country’s art ecosystem.” 

Between the Sky and the Earth also marks an important collaboration between two art galleries with similar missions -  the MEI Art Gallery and The NYUAD Art Gallery. Both provide a platform for the exhibition of thought-provoking artists from the Middle East and internationally alongside programming and scholarship focused on encouraging debate and deepening understanding.


“We are delighted and honored to play a role in the realization of this exhibition in collaboration with the Middle East Institute. This constellation of work gives a glimpse of the art scene here, from those who’ve been breaking new ground in art for decades, to those who are rising stars of the new generation of artists in the Emirates. I deeply admire these artists; I’m very eager to see their works presented in a different context, in the US, and through the eyes of its residents.”

Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery Maya Allison

“This partnership between the Middle East Institute and The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery reflects our institutions' belief in the value of collaboration and bridge-building across cultures. By co-presenting an exhibition in Washington, DC with a regional institution, we are able to gain from their expertise and insights to provide Washington audiences with a new lens on the transformations the UAE has experienced over the past 50 years.”

Vice President for arts and culture at the Middle East Institute Kate Seelye

The featured artists are: Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Afra Al Dhaheri, Tarek Al-Ghoussein,  Hashel Al Lamki, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Asma Belhamar, Alaa Edris, Lamya Gargash, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Kazem, Solimar Miller, Augustine Parede.

The show opens to the public on Friday, December 3, 2021 from 6-8pm as part of Dupont Circle’s First Friday tradition. The opening will be preceded by an invite-only live panel discussion from 5pm-6pm featuring curator Munira Al Sayegh and two participating artists, Hashel Al Lamki and Solimar Miller, moderated by the Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery Maya Allison. The exhibit is up through March 31, 2021 and can be visited via timed appointments at the MEI Art Gallery at 1763 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036 and online.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.