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A Unique Academic Project

Celebrating Iraqi Chaldean Art


An open dialogue with the Artist & Writer Ms. Lavon Ammori

  • Interviewed by Amer Fatuhi *



The Chaldean-American artist and writer Lavon Ammori is undertaking the
first book publication about contemporary Chaldean visual art. Artist, critic, and advisor for the project Amer Fatuhi speaks with her about this endeavor.


-Can you give us an idea about the goals and expectations you seek to fulfill through this unique project?

The main goal is to promote and preserve the achievements of contemporary Iraqi Chaldean artists. There’s no resource about the contemporary art history of our community, even though we have impressive talent and artists who were very influential in the field. We are celebrating the Chaldean culture and these artists in making this book.


-Who are the major sponsors of (Celebrating Iraqi Chaldean Art) and when will the book be published?

The Chaldean Educational Center of America and the International Association of Chaldean Professional Visual Artists (ICA) are collaborating on the project. We are seeking grants and are accepting business sponsorship. I am also speaking with a number of publishers at the moment, and will choose the one that can produce the high quality product this subject deserves. It will be a very beautiful book with full color images of works by many artists.  We expect to have the book published by next fall.


- What will be the main subjects or structure of the book?

The book focuses on artists in the 20th and 21st century from the time of Iraq’s independence in the 1930s to the present day.  The sections are organized chronologically, and a number of select artists and their works are discussed in each chapter. These artists include Issa Hanna Dabish, who was among a few founders of the modern Iraqi art movement, and Faraj Abbo, who was an instructor of art at Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts for several decades. The book will include a catalog of Chaldean artists and a collection of images. I should mention the book is in English.


  - Such an enormous and impressive project has to have a team of consultants and assistants, who is in your team, and what is their role?

ICA and Mesopotamia Art Gallery are a helpful source. Over 40 Chaldean artists from many countries are registered in the group. Many Chaldean and other Iraqi web-sites, among them www.iraqiartist.com, www.ankawa.com, www.bakhdida.com and a few others, provided me with their helpful resources. Also, the directors at the Ministry of Information and Culture in Iraq and the Iraqi Embassy in D.C. have kindly agreed to do what they can to provide me with requested information.


-Would you like to enlighten us with some of the major sources and academic resources of your project (Celebrating Iraqi Chaldean Art)?

Because of discrimination by the government-run art institutions, art books published in Iraq hardly mention the part of non-Arab artists. Other sources, such as the directories of the Iraqi Plastic Artists Society and Artist’s Union, are more inclusive but not as in-depth. Reviews and articles in art magazines of the period are a main source.  For this kind of research, the best resource has proven to be artists themselves or their family members. They can provide me with information and images of art work. Locating artists can be a difficult task because of the situation in Iraq, they scattered around the world, and those still in Iraq are difficult to reach. Iraqi websites and artist pages are useful. A few books about Iraqi contemporary art history in general are in helpful for an understanding of a historical context.


-Is there a last word you would like to say to the reader?

The Chaldean community can be very proud of their artists and this project. We need to preserve and share this history with our children and future generations. We should remember that Iraq was a vibrant center, full of creativity, music, art, and life. Hopefully, our children will not only think of Iraq in terms of the images of war they see on the TV news, but also in terms of the beauty that comes from its people.


 I would like to ask professional Chaldean visual artists, as well as those who may provide documents or resources, to contact me as soon as possible. If you would like to contribute to the project, we welcome your financial support. This is a non-profit project and contributions are tax deductible.


Amer Fatuhi: it should be mentioned that the (Celebrating Iraqi Chaldean Art) project is the upshot of more than two years of research and academic expertise of the artist Lavon Ammori. This project is a critical cultural project from my experience and after taking a look at the study subjects that have been selected, it can be said with confidence that this project will be of distinct quality and an addition to the achievements of the members of the Iraqi communities in the American Diaspora, especially the achievements of the native Iraqis, the Chaldeans in particular. For more information about (Celebrating Iraqi Chaldean Art), and for making donations or providing resources, write to the author at the following e-mail: chaldeanartproject@gmail.com or to learn more about the artist and her project please visit the website www.mesopotamiaartgallery.com, currently under construction.


Illustration: A photograph from a recent interview with Ms. Lavon Ammori in her office at Mesopotamia Art History & Beyond (Learning Studio & Art Gallery).