Palestinian artist & architect Yasmeen Monsour:

‘Expressions of the lived environment’

Architecture and art have always been a harmonious duo. One represents appealing functionality, while the other tends to express emotions. The first can’t exist without the latter, perfectly illustrated by the timeless pieces created by Palestinian artist and architect Yasmeen Monsour.
Architecture graduate

Having studied at the American University of Sharjah, Monsour is an architecture graduate. Due to its deep connection to the arts, architecture is a field she fell into effortlessly. Her experience as an artist came in very handy during her studies.

When discussing art, Monsour becomes captivated and illuminates the room as she describes her love of creating. ‘Art is not something I do. It is a way of living. It is my career, my inspiration. It’s the way I think. It’s my life’, she says as she rifles through her backpack for her sketchbook, something that is always near and dear to her. It is her tool for capturing the beauty she sees in the world around her. Her deep curiosity makes her a very observant person.

 

 

“My art consists of expressions of the lived environment”
Art process

She has a quiet determination about her and a steady focus. While we talk, she puts away her sketchbook and fetches her tablet. Speaking excitedly but eloquently, she scrolls through, explaining her rigorous art process through multiple digitalized sketches. It is a technique called reverse work, which is working and reworking drawings as a way of thinking, gradually adding layers of expression little by little. ‘My work is constantly growing and evolving through reimagining and reformulations’, she explains.

Mansour is humble and thoughtful as she speaks about her inspirations. Although she admires the works of many fellow artists, she absorbs much of her inspiration from her surroundings and the people she interacts with. ‘My art’, she explains, ‘consists of expressions of the lived environment’.

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Pride

A constant theme throughout her work is pride in her Palestinian cultural heritage. ‘Since I was little, I always created things that oriented towards Palestine’, she says. The essence of her works reflects this beautifully, with the Old City in particular often serving as her muse.

This collection is entitled ‘Layers of the City’, Mansour’s thesis and passion project. It is a layering of facades and sectional views portraying historical and structural elements in the tiny spaces that is the labyrinth of the Old City of Jerusalem. It represents a new structural functionality and tells the story of the different historical periods.

“Since I was little, I always created things that oriented towards Palestine”
Inviting

The color palette gives it a warm and inviting ambiance and emphasizes each time period with depth. It analyses an existing courtyard (hosh) within the Old City and represents a new way of living, giving the families living within a dignified existence.

This piece represents street culture, made up of different scenes laid out like puzzle pieces that represent different facets of everyday life within the city, embellished with colors you would find in the spice market in the Old City.

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Lived experience

The inclusion of certain elements entices an experience of the senses (the sounds of the crowded and narrow alleys, the smell of leather and spice, the warmth from the bakery ovens, the taste of fresh juice) that gives a truly authentic feel of lived experience.

It also perfectly represents Monsour’s emotional connection and nostalgia for the ancient city.

“Monsour’s works are true poetic images that convey history, culture, and society”
Fusion of art

Monsour’s works are true poetic images that convey history, culture, and society. In the future, she sees herself continuing to create a fusion of art and architecture that will expand, include, and celebrate the MENA region.

Currently, she is in the research phase of her latest project, which will be her take on the placement of the separation wall and its intricacies.

Yasmeen Monsour

To see more from Yasmeen Monsour, check out her Instagram page. Her art is available via DM.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Palestinian American writer and project consultant Ysmein Abukhdeir holds a Master's degree in international studies and diplomacy from the University of London (SOAS). She has dedicated her career to development work with a focus on international projects that highlight Palestinian heritage. Her bicultural upbringing has given her a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances that define the Palestinian experience. Using this cross-cultural perspective, combined with a deep-rooted love f...

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