A rush of fine arts and liberation swept the Takoma Park Community Center on Saturday, June 11 as Empowered Women International hosted their third annual day-long “We The People Project.” The event featured outstanding local Muslim and Arab female artists performing studio demonstrations and selling artwork, including paper crafts, jewelry, paintings, calligraphy, textiles and more, with middle eastern goodies to admire (and some to eat) all around.
I spoke with Nadia Janjua, coordinator of Muslim Women in the Arts, who is herself an artist and architect. “Organizations [such as MWIA] give artists a safe space to work in,” she explains, “women feel encouraged to share their experiences, instead of keeping it locked away inside themselves.” By using art as a common language, women such as those in the MWIA are able to explore issues of victimization and communicate the ideas of abuse in a medium that can be universally understood.
The evening finished with a stirring performance by Rohina Malik, in her one-woman, self-written play “Unveiled,” which examines the plight of Muslim and Arabic women in a world seeded with cultural misunderstanding and fear. Under the guise of five different women, Malik acts out the struggles of 9/11 hate attacks, the decision to wear or not wear a hijab in public, and the generalization of Arab culture, with an impressive array of accents to match — she even raps! The show is a heartwarming, occasionally terrifying, and enlightening experience which preaches one message above all: ignorance and fear are the real weapons of mass destruction.
To view the Voice photo gallery, visit http://voice.smugmug.com/Art/We-The-People-2011-by-Rachel/17544104_Pb9WNg#1335515120_2Q5R9T3