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The Project: A Photography Workshop for Arab Women - “Women Capturing their Surroundings”

image02Photo by Asaf Elboher

At its core, the Musrara School perceives art as a powerful means for social change. Based on this founding block, we provide empowerment workshops for marginalized segments of society. One distinctive project that has been running for the last three consecutive years is a photography and social media introductory workshop for Arab women from the Jerusalem periphery. The endeavor is part of an empowerment project for Arab women, “Women Together for a Green Future,” a collaboration with “Community” and “Kidron River Basin”.

Goal: To empower Arab women to be leaders in their community by the imbuing of learned skills, and building the capacity of shared information between Arab communities in order to strengthen social cohesion.

Content: The workshop focuses on teaching photography theory, modern photography, and skills of operating the camera (i.e. lighting, digital photography, various camera techniques, digital printing, alternative printing, etc.) as an empowering means of expression.
This workshop also exposes these women to the variety of social media and accessibility to the mass public via Facebook, mobile phone photographs (i.e iPhone). When possessing all the tools above, these women have the freedom to distribute visual information onto various Internet platforms to create a community-based virtual space of inclusion and empowerment. A space in which different contents will be shared side by side, from environmental instruction for the improvement of the everyday quality of life to the description and preservation of each community’s particular way of life as an inseparable part of the general Arab community.

At the project's conclusion, we host a graduation event and an exhibition of these women’s work. The event is open to their families, friends and community leaders. For many of the women, this marks the very first time they receive graduation certificates for their achievement.

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During the last graduation event, which took place at school on August 25th , the women emphasized how this workshop opened their souls to the deep meanings of studying photography, making them more aware to react to and develop sensitivity to their surroundings. This event was preceded by an exhibition at Tzur Baher, a small village at the periphery of Jerusalem, community center Last year, the topic of the graduation project for one of the two groups we hosted was a self-portrait of the participant alongside a prop she most relates to.

14This is Achlam Muchissan, a recent graduate of the workshop, and her favorite book Eat, Pray, Love.
 
Outcome: The workshop develops the participants’ leadership abilities and artistic freedom, while strengthening their value of environmental responsibility. As they return to their habitat, in addition to their everyday motherhood and household routine, they will also become social leaders, thanks to the tools they acquired throughout the year in Musrara.

Candidates for Participation: When calling for participants, we search for active and leading women for whom photography is close to their hearts, and who will be willing to use the camera for their own benefit and the benefit of their entire community.

Language: Most of the participating women, if not all, are Arabic speakers with no knowledge of Hebrew. Hence we employ a translator to provide simultaneous translation from Hebrew throughout the period of the workshop.

Location:  The workshop is held in in Musrara, The Naggar School of Art- Jerusalem, augmented by field trips for training.

Time Period: To date, due to budget constraints, we hosted the groups for 12 two-hour sessions during one academic year.