Multitudes: An Art Exhibit after #muslimban

October 18, 2017

Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University
October – December 2017

A number of exhibitions since 9/11, and now in the age of the #muslimban, have used art as a platform to counter discrimination and Islamophobia by humanizing Muslims and emphasizing their contributions to American society. Yet, even when cast in a positive light, the image of Muslims often remains oversimplified. Moreover, the full negative impact of actions such as the #muslimban on a diversity of communities (including Sikhs and non-Muslim Arabs) remains unacknowledged.

Multitudes is an art exhibition that seeks to do something distinct by drawing attention to the complex nature of ethnic, religious, and racial identities. The title refers to the multiple and often contradictory dimensions of identity that are expressed by individuals and communities in the United States. The exhibition explores themes of solidarity and intersection within Muslim, black, brown, gender-based, refugee and immigrant communities and highlights the impossibility of defining any region, culture, or identity through a singular understanding.

The exhibition brings together seven artists and an artists’ collaborative from diverse Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds, whose work challenges and transcends narrow representations of people from Muslim-majority countries. While such representations are often dominated by images of violence in today’s news and entertainment media, the work in this exhibition spans a range of media, including photography, printmaking, sculpture, and painting, to create cutting-edge and subversive commentaries on contemporary society that also relate to the artists’ own complex identities.

—Saima Akhtar and Mona Damluji, Curators 

Featured Artists (in alphabetical order)

Leila Abdelrazaq Leila is a Chicago-born, Palestinian author and artist. Her debut graphic novel, Baddawi (Just World Books 2015) was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards and has been translated into three languages. Her drawings and writing have been featured in outlets such as VICE NewsHarper’sHyperallergic, and The FADER, as well as in several printed anthologies. Her creative work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory, and borders. Leila has been involved in organizing around the Palestinian cause and the city of Chicago since 2011, and integrates art making into her organizing work. She is currently a core member of For The People Artist’s Collective. She is also the founder of Bigmouth Press & Comix.

Saks Afridi (http://www.saksafridi.com/) Saks is a multi-disciplinary artist. Born in Pakistan and raised in several countries, he now lives and works in New York City. Saks’s art practice is two-fold: Collaborative and Personal. His personal work investigates the predicaments and perplexities of the life of an ‘Insider Outsider’. This is the practice of achieving a sense of belonging while being out of place, finding happiness in a state of temporary permanence, and re-contextualizing existing historical and cultural narratives with the contemporary. His collaborative work tackles issues around human rights, Islamophobia, drone warfare and social justice in general.

Christopher Mir (http://christophermir.com/home.html) Christopher was born in 1970 in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up in Camden, Maine, and now lives and works in Whitneyville, Connecticut. Christopher has had four solo shows in New York (three at RARE Gallery and one at Benrimon Contemporary). In addition, he has had several solo exhibitions in Europe: at Galeria Senda in Barcelona, Schuster Gallery in Berlin, and TM Projects in Geneva. Major collections include the Yale University Art Gallery, Susan and Michael Hort, Simon Watson, Pamela Auchincloss, Matthew and Iris Strauss, Beth Rudin DeWoody, and Jeff Bezos. In 2003 Christopher was awarded the Rhema Hort Mann foundation grant. In 2010 he was commissioned to make a painting for the US Embassy in Zambia, Africa. Essays/ reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Art Forum, Creative Europe, and Take Magazine. In 2019 Christopher’s work will be included in the exhibition “Suffering From Realness” at Mass Moca curated by Denise Markonish.

Qinza Najm (http://www.qinzanajm.com/index.html) Qinza Najm is a Pakistani-American artist whose work has been selected for many national and international juried exhibitions. Currently Najm’s large-scale work is held in several prestigious public and private art collections. She has exhibited at Dubai’s Christie’s Art, Miami Art Basel, Sikka Art Dubai, Dumbo Art Fair, Governors Island Art Fair, and Times Square. Najm’s large scale hanging installation will be open to public in February 2016 for three years at Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

Yasin Osman (http://yescene.com/) Yasin is a photographer based in Toronto who specializes in evocative images of the living world. Raised in Regent Park as the city began to tear his community down & apart he felt the urge to document everyday life in his changing neighbourhood. Moving on to his first DSLR only enhanced his ability to capture emotion & depth. He has worked with organizations such as UNICEF, MACLEANS Magazine and VICE. The artist recently came back from Somalia where he shot stills for #LoveArmyForSomalia an organization started by Jerome Jarre, Casey Neistat, Ben Stiller & Chaka.

Kameelah Rasheed (http://www.kameelahr.com/) Kameelah (b. 1985) is artist-archivist based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from East Palo Alto, CA with brief stints in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kameelah’s interdisciplinary and research ­intensive practice considers ideas of selective legibility and opaqueness as a political strategy; the tension between narrative contingencies and narrative resolutions; as well as black traditions of covert literacies and self-publishing. Until September 2016, she will be a Keyholder Resident at the Lower East Side Printshop. She is also a recipient of the Triple Canopy’s 2015 NYPL Labs Commission where she is conducting archival research on early 20th-century Black religious movements through NYPL’s expansive archive.

Katherine Toukhy (http://laundromatproject.org/khayamiya-monument/) Katherine (Create Change Fellow ‘14) is a Brooklyn-based artist working in studio and in community. In 2015 she received Brooklyn Arts Council grants, for the third year, and was nominated for an Art Matters grant. In 2014, she completed a fellowship with The Laundromat Project and a collaboration led by Jeanne Heeswijk at Queens Museum. Awards include: 2014 “Best in Show” by curator of the Drawing Center, Claire Gilman, for “Paperworks Unbound”; and inclusion in Mahnaz Fancy’s top 30 selections for Curate NYC. She has shown at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History, FiveMyles Gallery, and other galleries and community spaces.