Artist Hend Al-Mansour finds femininity in artwork

Art allows people to connect with the most vulnerable parts of themselves and to fully express themselves. Minnesota artist Hend Al-Mansour’s upcoming exhibition at the 410 Project in downtown Mankato allowed her to do just that. 

Al-Mansour found out that she was compelled to make art at a very young age and as she grew up, her passion for art did too.

“I was inclined towards art when I was a child and that continued with me as I made art all the time,” said Al-Mansour. “I was born with the desire to make art.”

Al-Mansour uses a variety of patterns in her artwork. Her favorite type of art is creating and designing lines, such as contour drawings of humans. While she started by drawing and painting, she later shifted over to installation pieces with raw canvas and burlap.

“I started to paint inside the lines with watercolors and acrylics and oils and played with all these mediums. Later on, I gravitated towards… making prints and covering them with fabric which is another use of lines,” said Al-Mansour. “The skills with lines are versatile.”

Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Al-Mansour’s inspiration comes from Islamic art. Al-Mansour’s physical inspiration comes from Sadu, woven tent designs, and Qatt, a type of mural making; both art styles specifically created by women. She finds spiritual inspiration from celebrating the power of women. 

“I tend to go back and study about powerful women in Islam and goddesses and the positive images of the feminine and bring it to today’s life,” shared Al-Mansour. “Coming from Saudi Arabia, I felt the oppression first hand and women’s oppression. Where I came from, it was intolerable which is why I left.”

One of Al-Mansour’s favorite pieces that will be displayed in the gallery is called “Khadijah,” a blue and gold piece that represents the prophet Muhammad’s first wife pregnant with their daughter, Fatima. The piece is what is commonly seen in mosques and other Islamic mosaics. Both Khadijah and Fatima are role models to Al-Mansour.

“In my opinion, without [Khadijah], there would be no Islam, no religion. She was a great support to [Muhammad] and a wise woman who was very generous,” shared Al-Mansour. “They are very powerful and they were leaders to their community.”

Coming from St. Paul, Al-Mansour was drawn to exhibiting her art at the 410 Project as she’s never displayed her work in Southern Minnesota before. 

“I’ve been to Mankato a few times, but I’ve never interacted with a Mankato crowd, so I’m very excited to see how they will receive me and how I will interact with them,” shared Al-Mansour. “I like to meet audiences and it’s an opportunity [to meet] new people.”

Al-Mansour hopes that viewers of her gallery will gain a sense of unity and understanding through her artwork.

“I want viewers to empathize and identify with women of color, especially Arab-American women and feel the comradery between women everywhere in their calling,” shared Al-Mansour. “I want men and other audiences to recognize and make them think about other people and other cultures as equal.”

Hend Al-Mansour’s painting and prints exhibition opens April 1 and will be open at the 410 Project through April 16.

Header Photo: St. Paul artist Hend Al-Mansour finds inspiration for her artwork from women-made Saudi Arabian art styles and ancient Islamic women whom she considers role models. (Courtesy photo)

Write to: Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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