Previewing the Muslim Student Association’s Art Exhibition

by Brian Asare, Photography Editor

Islam Awareness Week is a week in which the Manhattan College Muslim Student Association (MSA) tries to promote peace and understanding within the environment in which they exist. The week’s main goal is to make clear that although we have many differences, we also have many similarities.

  This year’s Islam Awareness Week is jammed packed with a variety of interesting events which aims at shining some light on student advocacy and activism. Out of all the seven programs planned for the Islam Awareness week, one new event caught the eye of The Quadrangle, which is the Art Exhibition in collaboration with Sanctus Artem, Manhattan College’s art club ,making it the first of its kind.

  Nadia Itani, the event coordinator of the MSA wanted to shed some more light on the week as well as how excited she was for this new event.

  “The art exhibition is the second of seven events planned for Islam Awareness Week,” Itani said in an email statement. “The theme of the week is student advocacy and activism, and this art exhibit is meant to give the students and members of the Manhattan College community a platform to share their artwork. The artwork itself shows the artist’s perspective of American Muslim identity, background, and heritage. Both Muslim and non-Muslim individuals are encouraged to participate, in order to show the variety in identity among those on our campus when it comes to advocacy and activism in terms of Islam.”

  She also gave her take on why art is the strongest medium to convey deep and heartfelt messages as compared to all the other forms of expression that exist.

  “We are so used to attending lectures and listening to speakers and sitting in rooms while people tell us what to think,” Itani said. “However, I believe that art is a lost form of expression and one that people are often afraid to share. This exhibit is meant to provide artists with a safe space to express themselves, as well as give those observing the artwork to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions based on the art they see. Whether a video or painting or poem, this exhibit is meant to give viewers a chance to effectively observe the art and its meaning, stimulating emotions in terms of American Muslim identity. It is a refreshing way to inform the community about the goal of Islam Awareness Week without having to verbally explain what it all means.” Nadia said.

  Fatoumata Saho, the secretary of the MSA also wanted to give her take on how this new event is going to showcase the talents that exist in Manhattan college and how she is really excited about the collaboration with Sanctus Artem.

  “We decided to do the art exhibit this year because this years theme is activism and advocacy and another way to be active and show voice through art, poems and pictures,” Saho said. “A lot of people here in Manhattan College are very creative and so we decided that why not make an art exhibit with the theme of the Muslim American identity and in this, we portrayed how people view Muslim Americans, how Muslim Americans view themselves and the struggles they are going through.”

She continued.

  “Sanctus Artem [is] amazing! We are collaborating with them because they are amazing at putting up an art exhibit and they were willing to help us so we decided to collaborate with them because they are just great people,” Saho said.

  Husnaat Malik, the treasurer of the MSA gave his take on why the art exhibition is different from most of the other programs being held during the week.

  “The entire week is based around Islam Awareness Week, but a lot of that is through people physically talking, but the good thing about the art exhibition is that it is more of a mental thing. The purpose of the art exhibition is to mostly appeal to the emotions through different forms,”  said Malik.

  He continued.

  “I feel like art is unique in the sense that everyone looks at it differently, maybe like a basic them like American Muslim identity, while there may be that theme, everyone is going to look at the art differently and everyone is going to take away something different and I feel like the beauty of art,” he said.

  Submissions so far are looking pretty promising according to Itani.

  “So far, we have about 15 submissions, whether they be videos, paintings, photograph collections or poems. Each submission brings along a new perspective to the theme of Muslim American Identity and it is interesting to see what different people can come up with given the same theme. Each submission has a story behind it to guide the thoughts of  its viewers, while still leaving enough room for interpretation.” she said.

  Malik has high expectations for the Art exhibition and hopes its one that it is something that continues next year as well.

  “This is the first year I believe we are doing this so I feel like it would be a great addition to Islam Awareness Week because it just something a little different and breaks up the week a little nicer because it something a little different and it is just a different way of expressing things,” he said.