The exhibition “We Will Be What We Want to Be:” From Baltimore To Palestine, a collection of works by a family of Palestine-American artists, will open to the public on May 31, 2024, at AREA 405. It features the paintings, sculptural works, new media, and poetry installations of Zahi Khamis, Kim Jensen, Ahlam Khamis, and Besan Khamis. This exhibition is curated by Baltimore-based curator, Quentin Gibeau.

“The title We Will Be What We Want to Be is taken from the title of one of Zahi Khamis’s paintings, which in turn is taken from the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish who invites his people—and all of us—to use our vision, imagination, and creativity to reorder the world. When we engage in the visionary act of defining ourselves for ourselves, we transform tragedy into limitless possibility,” says artist Kim Jensen.

“In the midst of one of the most devastating moments in Palestinian history, the works gathered in this space will showcase the diverse and moving ways that each member of the family interprets, responds, and transforms their lived experiences,” Jensen continues. “The exhibit asks us to think of expression as the opposite of oppression, creation as a release from subjugation, and self-definition as a path to liberation.”

About the Artists

Zahi Khamis:

Born and raised in the Palestinian village of Reineh outside of Nazareth, Zahi Khamis moved to the US in the early 80’s. He holds a BA degree in Mathematics from San Diego State University, and an MA in Liberal Studies from Loyola University in Baltimore. Zahi taught mathematics in
public schools for 16 years. Since 2008, he has been teaching at Goucher College.

Zahi has been painting and exhibiting for many years. His work has appeared in numerous publications and in solo, juried, and cultural exhibits, including shows at the United Nations, The U.S. Senate, The Palestine Center (Washington D.C) and the Carnegie Institute for Peace. Informed by the Palestinian story, and his own life in exile, Zahi’s work is part of the long tradition of committed art. His bright, optimistic colors combined with the tragic expressions of his subjects


express the painful, yet luminous, contradictions of all those who struggle for liberation.

Kim Jensen:

Kim Jensen is a Baltimore-based writer, poet, educator, and translator who has lived in California, France, and Palestine. Her experimental novel, The Woman I Left Behind, about a turbulent love affair between a young US student and a Palestinian refugee was a finalist for Forward Magazine’s book of the year. Her two collections of poems, Bread Alone and The Only Thing that Matters, were published by Syracuse University Press. Active in transnational peace and social justice movements for decades, Kim’s work has been featured or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Anthropocene, Modern Poetry in Translation, Decolonial Passage, Transition, Anomaly, Action, Spectacle, International Human Rights Arts Festival, Another Chicago Magazine, Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Extraordinary Rendition: Writers Speak Out on Palestine, Gaza Unsilenced, Bomb Magazine, Al-Jadid, Sukoon, Mizna, Revista el Humo, Left Curve, Liberation Literature, and many others. In 2001, she won the Raymond Carver Award for short fiction. Kim is currently a professor of English and Creative Writing at the Community College of Baltimore County, where she co-founded an interdisciplinary literacy initiative that demonstrates the vital connection between classroom learning and social justice in the broader community.

Ahlam Khamis:

Ahlam Khamis is an actor, musician, filmmaker, and multi-media artist. She received her BFA in Acting from CalArts in 2013, and trained in the Meisner technique at the William Esper Studio from 2019-2020. She played classical violin throughout her childhood. In her multi-media art practice, Ahlam utilizes a variety of elements: theater performance studies, research on surveillance of Black and Palestinian communities, research on war technology, dance choreography, video and audio recordings, documentaries, fabric, needles, and thread. She lets a sense of pain, fragmentation, anxiety, and dreaminess
enter into an interplay between all of the above aspects of her work.

Besan Khamis:

Besan Khamis is a Palestinian-American artist and fisherman based in Baltimore, Maryland (MICA 2016). His paintings forage the landscape of personal and family memory, blending these elements into realist and surrealist abstractions. His sculptural works follow a similar genealogy; tapping into his own inventory of imagery and the collective subconscious, he uses playfulness to turn the ordinary unexpected, illustrating the thin line that separates comedy and tragedy, while offering an implicit critique of social relations.


Friday, 5/31/24: Opening reception with the artists. Friday, 6/14/24: Station North Art Walk.
Friday, 6/28/24: Closing reception with the artists.

Learn more
Add to Calendar 20240531 America/New_York 405 East Oliver Street Baltimore Maryland 21202 “We Will Be What We Want to Be:” From Baltimore to Palestine