About Us

al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art

al Mawrid is a global nexus for research on the visual arts. It is building an archival resource for scholarship on the region and a structure for international collaboration in the form of conferences, colloquia, and research fellowship.

A major aim of the al Mawrid is to investigate paths and practices for teaching art based on regional theoretical perspectives. This focus situates this research into an expanded and revised chronology of early modern and modern forms of the region’s culture. It moves away from presumed accounts by focusing on the region’s contribution to modernism beyond art historical and historical assumptions.

The Arab Art Archive builds upon an initiative led by Salwa Mikdadi in the mid-1980s, under the name of ICWA/Cultural & Visual Art Resource, to archive and study the art of the Arab world. That initiative involved documenting artists’ responses to a range of social, political and environmental issues, notably wars in Lebanon and Iraq, and the field research it entailed resulted in the creation of an artist-database, audio and video interviews, and publications now housed in the Salwa Mikdadi Papers at the NYU Library.

Renewing that earlier archival project within the context of a global research university, the Arab Art Archive seeks not only to consolidate the documentary record for students and scholars worldwide, but also to use that record to develop new historiographic frameworks that move beyond established paradigms in the discipline of art history. To this end, al Mawrid pairs the construction of its archive with a range of endeavors, both scholarly and artistic, to identify new categories of analysis and interpretation that re-frame the history of modern art both regionally and globally.

al Mawrid absorbs a pre-existing archive of vernacular photography founded by Shamoon Zamir at NYU Abu Dhabi in 2014. The Akkasah Photography Archive is home to an archive of the photographic heritage of the Arab world and the wider region, with a focus on the UAE and the Gulf.

al Mawrid is also developing tools that explore the visual arts as a locally-grounded site of knowledge production. Led by May Al-Dabbagh, Haraka: Experimental Lab for Arab Art and Social Thought bridges the arts and social sciences to investigate the ideas and interpersonal engagements emerging from the region to support alternative modes of knowledge production and pedagogy on the Arab region’s societies and history.