Cecile Houel's Portrait of Barack Obama in the Bereskin Gallery & Art Academy's “Nobel Peace Prize Collection: Peace Starts Within" -- August 28 through October 31.

Opening Reception: Friday, September 4, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Exhibit: Friday, August 28, through Saturday, October 31

Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy, 2967 State Street, Bettendorf IA

Some of the greatest and most beloved figures in world history will soon be celebrated at the Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy, with the Bettendorf venue, from August 28 through October 31, showcasing portraits by internationally recognized artist Cecile Houel in Nobel Peace Prize Collection: Peace Starts Within, a new exhibition co-sponsored by Quad Cities radio station WVIK.

A French-born artist with a deep passion for diversity and justice, Houel says she began her Peace Starts Within project about five years ago, and works from her studio in Fort Madison, Iowa – a two-minute walk from the Mississippi River. She completes 10 of these intensely personal, four-foot by four-foot portraits each year, and included in the display of 10 portraits at the Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy will be renderings of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Elie Wiesel, and Barack Obama, among others. Samples of Houel's preliminary drawings and studies will also be on display, with other examples of Houel’s work viewable at her Web site CecileHouel.com.

Mother Teresa by Cecile Houel

Born to a Catholic father and a Muslim mother, Houel said she witnessed discrimination while growing up in the Middle East. “I have a deep compassion for diversity,” she said, noting her goal is to create peace events where she can display all of her works. In her Artist Statement, she adds, “I have the ambition to paint all the Nobel Peace Prize winners since the establishment of the Nobel Society in 1901, to honor their will and dedication to make a better world with strength, courage, and creativity. Each figure, internationally acclaimed, or subject to controversy brought their light and contributed to humanity’s evolution. I join my heart to theirs in Love.”

Pat Beréskin, owner of the Bettendorf venue, sees the Houel exhibition as a perfect opportunity for families involved in online schooling to learn about these important figures in history, and other examples of the artist's work will be displayed this fall at other Quad Cities venues including Quad City Arts' Art at the Airport in Moline and Davenport's Adler Theatre/RiverCenter and the German American Heritage Center. A downloadable “Passport for Peace” on her gallery's Web site lists where each piece is displayed in the Quad-Cities and gives a biography of each Laureate. “Together,” says Beréskin, “we will have a body of work that tells the history and importance of working for peace through the lives and brushstrokes of Cecile Houel.”

The 14th Dalai Lama by Cecile Houel

An opening reception for Nobel Peace Prize Collection: Peace Starts Within – which also features works by local artist Heidi Hernandez – will be held on Friday, September 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with refreshments served and face masks and safe-distancing measures required. Regular gallery hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and more information on the August 28 through October 31 exhibition is available by calling (563)508-4630 and visiting BereskinArtGallery.com and Facebook.com/AtomStudioGallery.

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