Exhibit asks artists to define democracy

16 pieces include three by students

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor


photoMountain View High School junior Reem Sabha has an original piece called "Donkeys & Elephants" in the "What is Democracy?" exhibit at Gallery 360.

(/The Columbian)

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If you go

What: Exhibit: “What is Democracy?”

Where: Gallery 360, 111 W. Ninth St., Vancouver.

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until Dec. 2.

Cost: Free.

Information: 360-693-7340 or Gallery 360.

Did You Know?

Gallery 360’s Christmas Bazaar begins Nov. 17 and runs through the holidays. Classes are offered at the gallery.

Explaining her patriotic artwork, 16-year-old Reem Sabha said, "We can be Democrats or Republicans, but we're all ultimately Americans."

The Mountain View High School junior was one the artists who showed their work at "What is Democracy?" The new exhibit continues through Dec. 2 at Gallery 360 in downtown Vancouver.

"Parties are really the epitome of democracy," Reem said.

Her mixed media work, "Donkeys & Elephants," carries the headline, "We the People."

When her work was finished at Mountain View, "I posted it on Facebook. A lot of my friends saw it. They thought it was really nice … that it was non-biased."

Reem's mom came to the U.S. 18 years ago from Lebanon in the Middle East.

"I grew up during the wartime," said Reem's mother, Wissal Elissa. At the exhibit Sunday, she said her daughter's work reminds Americans "how important it is to vote.

"I've been a citizen for 12 years," Elissa said. "Voting is very powerful."

The exhibit has 16 pieces, including three by students.

Gallery member Jada Gilchrist suggested the themed show during November to coincide with the general election.

About 200 people attended the opening Friday night during First Friday in downtown.

Sunday's attendance was spare but board member Daniel Wickwire said Vancouver is blessed with "a really vibrant art community."

Wickwire's photograph of a weary, tattered American flag served as the poster for the exhibit. The image was captured in downtown Portland.

A serious photographer for the past 15 years, Wickwire was asked about his photo.

"This to me represents the precarious nature of democracy … waiting for a fresh wind to blow and energize our country. It's not intended to be a negative picture," he said.

He continued: "We as a country are poised to move forward but there's uncertainty. I try to do that in a lot of my pictures."

Artist Ron Jones, co-owner of Gallery 360, said opening night viewers were asked to write on a gallery wall what Democracy means to them. "The exhibit is in the shape of a flag," he added.

Reem of Mountain View noted her history classes have taught her that many Americans shunned political parties before the days of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States (1829–1837).

According to the website whitehouse.gov: "In his first Annual Message to Congress, Jackson recommended eliminating the Electoral College. … As national politics polarized around Jackson and his opposition, two parties grew out of the old Republican Party — the Democratic Republicans, or Democrats, adhering to Jackson; and the National Republicans, or Whigs, opposing him."

Reem says her future is in engineering. A member of the National Honor Society, she also is president of the Unicef Club, a member of Key Club and Red Cross Club, and a volunteer at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

"I'm a good citizen," she said.

Said her mom: "Every time I look at her, I think we have a good future for America."