Art and skateboarding in Palestine, an artist’s journey
NEW CANAAN — Adam Abel went to Palestine in 2011 as an artist. He ended up becoming the co-founder of an internationally-renowned skateboarding program, SkateQilya.
“Skateboarding as a sport and as an art form just came together,” Abel, a New York-based artist, said at the Global Perspectives Lecture held at New Canaan Library.
Abel’s initial interest in Palestine came around 2010 when he explored the confines and borders of the region via Google Earth. Abel, a Wesleyan University graduate, created large-format images of several Google Earth pictures to display at galleries.
His first travel to Palestine was in 2011 to continue his artistic ambitions. He was in Qalqilya, a region in the northern part of the West Bank, when he met Mohammed Othman, a tour guide and future SkateQilya executive director. Abel met a group of skateboarders and became immediately captivated with documenting their stories.
“There were children in Qalqilya that were eager to play but they only had little resources,” Abel said. “We started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign in the summer of 2011 and began filming in September.”
The endeavor fully enveloped Abel, and he became a part of the community.
Global Perspectives Lecture
Next Global Perspectives Lecture will be March 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lamb room of the New Canaan Library
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To read more about Adam Abel’s project visit: http://www.skateqilya.org/
“The real challenge was the real fine line between telling the story and becoming a part of the community,” Abel said.
Throughout the past seven years traveling back and forth to Palestine, Abel has seen two United Nations resolutions pass and two wars in Gaza. These larger context experiences, in addition to his personal involvement in Palestinian communities, “transformed” Abel.
“I would be reviewing the footage and noticing my own transformation,” Abel said. “I learned more about the narrative in Palestine.”
Around 20 individuals attended the lecture and Abel’s story enthralled various attendees as they audibly gasped at the images of Abel’s yet to be released documentary.
Abel and Othman began plans in 2013 to build a ramp in the city’s zoo which brought the attention of two pro-skaters, Ryan Patch and Kenny Reed.
“It took nine months to organize all the supplies and there were contractors from all over the world,” Abel said. “For nine days and nine nights, we hammered the ramp together.”
This eventually led to the founding of SkateQilya in the summer of 2016. The program’s resounding popularity turned it into a year-round enterprise and gained the attention of prominent nonprofits and skateboarding companies.
According to Christle Chumney, manager of public services at the library, the Global Perspectives lectures are a way in which people can discover new places and cultures via storytelling.
“The goal of this lecture series is to broaden the global conversation and provide a place where we can discuss topics civically and learn from one another,” Chumney said.
Chumney said she had met with Shekaiba Bennett, co-chair of the United Nations Committee of New Canaan, to brainstorm ideas for the lectures.
“When I was asked about who would be a good candidate for the lectures, I immediately thought of Abel,” Bennett said. “I think his presentation was incredible and many people learned about Palestine.”
Alan Haas, another Wesleyan graduate at the lecture, was proud of his collegiate connection with Abel.
“I’m proud to see Wesleyan graduates making a meaningful difference in the world and his presentation provided me a perspective into the Palestinian world.”