Arts & Entertainment

The people that persevere: Four Palestinian artists who have made an impact in their communities

Paying homage to the rich Palestinian culture, we’ve compiled a list of talented artists that want to share their beautiful culture with the world.

These past few weeks, news of the ongoing war between Palestine and Israel has oversaturated all social medias. Almost like an avalanche, stories upon stories from Palestinian survivors have started being dug up, giving light to a drastically dark situation. Politicians and government officials are not giving a voice to the countless victims of the Gaza strip air bomb strikes. Instead, we are being fed a point of view that is warped by politicians and those in power, favoring the Israeli forces and antagonizing the whole of Palestine for “harboring” Hamas terrorists.  

Many talented and proud Palestinian artists have created art to spread awareness of the truth. Their experiences as inhabitants of Palestine — the day-to-day life — including the moments where Israeli forces mounted attacks dating back decades. There is one common message being spread by these creators, and that is that they simply wish for their experiences to be truly heard, and their lives remembered. For miscommunication and faulty media coverage to be terminated. That is why I’ve decided to dig deep and find some artists that are currently fighting for their right to speak up about the reality that they live in.  

Elian Marijeh is a Palestinian-Chilean singer who goes by Elyanna on the stage and on all social media platforms. Currently signed into the Universal Arabic Music label, she has gotten over 557.6k listeners on Spotify as of today. She also recently performed in Coachella with a full Arab-language set list and became the first Arab singer to ever perform in the event. She continuously sings in her native tongue, proclaiming her love for the language. 

Her voice is otherworldly, with impeccable vocal control. Beautiful vibratos and exquisite use of the mawwal genre. Mawwal is an Arabic music genre that heavily relies on the quick progression of vocalization and requires superior voice control. You can truly hear the passion in her voice transcends the digital medium we hear it from. Recently, she had announced an upcoming tour where she would announce her new album that supposedly focused on the mawwal genre.  

But after news of the Gaza strip bombings spread and continues to worsen, Elyanna decided to postpone her tour. She announced it alongside a heart wrenching TikTok video where she previewed a new song she was hoping to release later in the tour. The new song says, “In the land of peace, peace is dead, and the world is sleeping on a hurt child.” This song is currently untitled, but Elyanna has stated that she wishes to show solidarity with her people, demonstrating the hurt she feels for being so far away from her home country. I encourage everyone to listen to these previews and the rest of her music: alternative pop with a bit of R&B and that perfect undulating voice.  

Sliman Mansour is a well-known Palestinian painter considered influential amongst the contemporary Palestinian artist community. His paintings branch from the cultural Palestinian concept of sumud: its literal translation meaning “steadfast perseverance”. It is the concept that Palestinians have adopted in order to persevere under Israeli rule, an undying hope to overcome adversity and take back the lands that were stolen from them. During the Intifada in 1988, Sliman made a four-painting series depicting destroyed Palestinian villages, and painted them using natural found around the environment (such as clay, mud, henna and coffee) as a way to protest art supplies brought by the Israeli invaders. 

Sliman Mansour’s “Camel of Hardships.” | Painting by Sliman Mansour

Mansour’s work is so influential in fact, that his art is often spoken about by Palestinian activists who use it as posters to protest Israeli forces. His paintings depict Palestinian villages, families and natural formations carry a sense of displacement. Mansour changed mediums throughout his career to solidify this narrative and prove the impact that fragmentation of his culture had on his psyche and ambition. His main goal is to show the beauty that Palestine continues to give, despite the destruction that might surround it due to opposing forces. Mansour has received critical acclaim worldwide and has his own website where he sells high quality prints of his art: Sliman Mansour – Palestinian art prints and posters 

Nemah Hasan, also known as Nemahsis, is a Palestinian Canadian singer that began her career through TikTok with the same name. Initially starting as a lifestyle and Muslim fashion influencer, she later transitioned to making song covers from artists such as Adele. At the start of her music career she faced a discriminatory event in which her record label fired her for being openly pro-Palestine. Nehmasis took it upon herself to record a response in a song format and publish it herself. “What if I took it off for you?” explores the struggles that come with wearing a hijab as an Arab woman, the direct discrimination and indirect judgement that comes from the West. It also brings room for exploration on the self-consciousness and dwindling self-esteem that can come from this constant hate.  

These past two weeks, Nehmasis has been an active voice in the #FreePalestine movement, taking part in the protests in Toronto and uploading informative and inspiring content to her TikTok. She highlights both the gruesome reality Palestinians are being faced with, but also promotes the sumud. This has begun giving people the strength to fight alongside the Palestinian protesters to get aid to those currently still inhabiting Gaza.  

“Jerusalem” | Painting by Heba Zagout

Heba Zagout was a professional artist who studied graphic design and visual arts and was a teacher in a Gaza elementary school. She was a loving mother of two whose artistic skills thrived through the medium of painting. For years, she dedicated her free time to creating beautiful pieces portraying her personal experience as a Palestinian living under the constant surveillance of the Israeli government. Yet using such vibrant colors and brush strokes to show the delicate love she shared for her home, her small town and family. On October 13th, only a few weeks ago, Heba Zagout and her two sons were killed during an airstrike attack made on Gaza.  

Alongside this, all her paintings were destroyed in the explosions. Little is being relayed about this occurrence, and her paintings are now only preserved in the chasms of the internet. Slowly, people have begun gathering pictures and videos of Heba’s works and telling her story for her, as well as finding her instagram page where most of her works have been digitally perserved: .This is another instance where a great human beings’ life was ripped away from them when they were only just getting started on their journey. Heba had a passion for painting, teaching, and family. We will make sure to show some of her works here and keep her memory alive.  

“Olive Tree” | Painting by Heba Zagout

Though each of these individuals have contributed immensely to the cause, it is truly up to us to educate ourselves in the matter and heighten these people’s voices. Spread the word, share a song with a friend or family member, and admire a painting. But most importantly, remember them. The people, those who are there, those who are far away and can’t return home; and those who have passed. Together, we can give a voice for those who no longer can.