Red Ink on White Orchid; Gold Ink on Bark

Artists Yi Xiao Chen and Osama Mah explore social cohesiveness, multiculturalism and community through hand-painting Chinese and Arabic symbols onto collected Australian flora

By Museum of Freedom and Tolerance

Yi Xiao Chen & Osama Mah

Yi Xiao Chen and Osama Mah

Jessie Yi Xiao Chen is a first generation Chinese-Australian artist and general practitioner working in Western Australia, who's work explores themes of cultural identity, family history, and connection to the past.

Born in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and growing up in Lakemba in Western Sydney, Osama Mah has always grown up in and amongst Islamic art and culture.

Practising Arabic calligraphy from a young age, many of Mah's pieces amalgamate Islamic themes and his background in digital graphic design. He believes cultural expression through the arts builds understanding and harmony between communities.

Ishq (passion), Osama Mah, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Ishq (passion) II, Osama Mah, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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The two artists met at Chen's first Freedom & Tolerance workshop, which Mah attended as a participant. Here, collaborators explored using Chinese and Arabic calligraphy in red ink on white orchids to express messages of cultural solidarity and unity.

They went on to co-facilitate the second workshop at the "Day of Demonstrations", hosted by Community Arts Network (CANWA), Museum of Freedom and Tolerance (MFTWA) and Creative Recovery Network.

The workshop invited members of the public to produce art on Australian flora, such as bark, dried eucalyptus leaves and mulberry leaves - much of which Chen collected from bushland near her father's home.

Untitled (2020) by Osama MahMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

Untitled

Symbyols hand-painted in red ink on bark by an unknown collaborator at Freedom & Tolerance, a workshop exploring cultural expression at "Day of Demonstrations".

Hayat (life) II (2020) by Osama MahMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

Hayat (life) II

Arabic symbol hand-painted in gold ink on bark by an unknown collaborator at Freedom & Tolerance, a workshop exploring cultural expression at "Day of Demonstrations".

Love and War - Dualities no.1, Jessie Chen, 2019, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Love and War - Dualities no.1, Jessie Chen, 2019, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Part 3: Rebuild (2019) by Jessie ChenMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

Part 3: Rebuild

Video of Zhang Di Hua, Sultana Shamshi and Osama Mah hand-painting orchids in Chen's Freedom & Tolerance workshop.

Li ta'aarafu (To mutually know one another), Osama Mah, Jessie Chen, 2019, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Freedom and Tolerance, Osama Mah, Jessie Chen, 2019, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Freedom and Tolerance, Osama Mah, Jessie Chen, 2019, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Freedom & Tolerance encourages participants, who become collaborators, to think about notions of community, multiculturalism and cohesiveness – and to then translate these ideas onto the pieces of flora through symbolism, words, phrases or illustrations.

Hayat (life), Jessie Chen, Osama Mah, Unknown Collaborator, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Hubb (love), Osama Mah, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Sandy, Osama Mah, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Connecting through art, Jessie Chen, Osama Mah, Unknown Collaborator, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Hubb (love) II, Osama Mah, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Hulwa (sweet), Osama Mah, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Untitled, Jessie Chen, Osama Mah, Unknown Collaborator, 2020, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Credits: Story

All works by Jessie Yi Xiao Chen and Osama Mah, in collaboration with workshop participants. 

Workshops delivered in partnership with Museum of Freedom and Tolerance (MFTWA), Community Arts Network (CANWA) and Creative Recovery Network.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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