My latest work is an exploration of hope. I am especially interested to find and reflect the hope that exists, however fragile, among individuals, families, and communities with limited opportunities. Where and how does hope exist? What sustains it? Where does it end? Even the marginalized have hope and dreams, even when their faces are not seen nor voices heard in our day-to-day life.  

I look forward to continuing along this path as it meanders through inner cities, rural areas, and immigrant communities in the Southeast. Many are on the edge of opportunity, nearby but not visible in our day-to-day lives. I look with interest and wonder at those places where hope coexists with hopelessness, welcome but seemingly out of place. In such circumstances the connections to hope may appear tenuous. But they are there and plainly visible to those who look.

The Hope Series began in 2013 while living in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.  Focusing on a small community of workers living in the Shabiya area of Abu Dhabi, I created six paintings for a group exhibition.  The show was held at Ghaf Gallery, then travelled to the Mattar Gallery in Dubai, April 1 - 10th, 2013.


Artist Statement for the Shabiya Series:

Juxtaposed against the glittering backdrop of Abu Dhabi, near the bustling industrial area of Mussafah, lies Shabiya 12, where wealth and poverty touch but don’t overlap. Shabiya cannot survive the vision of a modern Abu Dhabi. The ground is destined for better things; the people may not be so lucky.

Uncertainty. Eviction. Demolition.

Working on the margins of Abu Dhabi, the people of Shabiya must be moved aside to make way for the future. But they did not decide their fate. The old, decaying buildings are one thing. The people are another.

Uncertainty. Rumors. Fear.

Where will I go? Who, if anyone, will help? Where will my family live? I have an infant daughter.

Uncertainty. Movement. Money.

My doors both represent and hide the reality of Shabiya. The people behind them are a faceless community. Too quiet to be heard. The figures are Shabiya’s emotions, dreams, situations. Such situations are not specific to any region or class. They are all around us, in every corner of the world. Some people have more opportunity than others. But all can have hope. Hope lifts people up, gives wing to spirits. Will the tenuous connections of hope be enough to keep them aloft? Or will they fall back to Earth under the weight of their reality?

Uncertainty. Hope. Shabiya.

JEANNE WHATLEY is an artist and founder of She holds a BFA in studio art/painting with minors in art history and weaving & textiles from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Jeanne has lived and worked in the U.S., Germany, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi. In 2014, her family settled in Athens, GA, where she continues to explore the subject of hope through her paintings.  


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