a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
In 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning, Gazala purchased land in western Ohio, on which sits a disused school building. This site allowed her to explore her complex relationship with “the land.” As the daughter of displaced indigenous Palestinians, she attempts to form a proxy bond with the earth, on ground that was stolen from the displaced indigenous Shawnee people.
Closeness to the Land is video footage of hand-painted text signs that translate the word الأرض into six English words, displayed performatively in multiple locations to capture the now-invisible nature of indigenous culture in Ohio. These signs were installed on the old school house earlier this year.
Mona Gazala is a Palestinian-American artist currently living in Columbus, Ohio. She holds a Masters Degree from the Ohio State University in studio arts with a specialization in city/regional planning. Her practice, which is multi-disciplinary and often socially engaged, explores and exposes dynamics of power and systems of oppression that often manifest in built (and destroyed) structures, neighborhoods and environments. Gazala is the recipient of numerous grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Franklinton Arts District, Puffin Foundation West, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Decapital, and the Hishmeh Foundation, to undertake creative work centered on community building, social justice and activism.