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Building the Muslim Narrative

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The goal of this curated experience is to build the Muslim narrative by creating a platform for Muslim creatives who are exploring and expressing their narratives. This will include visual artists from GAMA: Gathering All Muslim Artists including painters, calligraphers and photographers, as well as poets, spoken word, traditional, and contemporary musicians from Muslim Writers Collective, all hosted by Sana Saeed.
The Muslim narrative is not homogenous. There are as many narratives as there are Muslims. The only way to express any sense or semblance of truth is by creating space for a spectrum of narratives to be expressed.
4:30 PM Doors Open
5 -6 PM Performances
6- 6 30 PM Art Market and Meal intermission
6 30 - 7 30 PM Performances
7 30 PM Closing Remarks and break for Maghrib
8 - 9 PM Art Market and Food Vendor
Confirmed Vendors:
Purple Impression
Ra'oofs' San Jose Bean Pies
Salam Collections
Confirmed Visual Artists:
Gabril Garai
Dulama LeGrande
Fahd Butt
Anam Ahsani
Henna by GAMA artists Zahra Siddique and Fatima Zehra
The experience will be multidimensional: There will be a visual arts marketplace, a curated stage lineup of five acts hosted by Sana Saeed, Muslim owned vendor booths, live art, henna, and more.
5 Acts:
Act 1: Maytha Alhassen with a speech introducing the event and the vision, as well as poetry.
Act 2: Spotlight on mental health grant (Wellness in Action) winners who will showcase and talk about their artwork about mental health in the Muslim community. GAMA visual artists: Gabril Garai Yasmeen Rasheed and Tamara Shoubber.
Act 3: Spoken word, storytelling, and more: Bay Area Muslim Writers Collective
Act 4: Qais Essar accompanied by Neelamjit Dhillon with live art by Iqbal Bhai
Act 5: This is Kayem accompanied by Qais, Neel, and a local group of musicians, with live art by Iqbal Bhai
maytha alhassen's work bridges the worlds of social justice, academic research, media engagement, artistic expression and spiritual mending. As an engaged scholar, alhassen received her PhD in American + Ethnic Studies (and under the mentorship of some of the most renowned historians and social scientists of our time), spent over a decade studying Malcolm X, helped establish the Middle East Studies program at USC, co-developed a Social Justice Institute at Occidental College, co-edited a book on youth voices from the Arab uprisings Demanding Dignity: Young Voices from the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions, and is now serving as an editor for Feminist Studies in Religion. In the realm of healing arts, alhassen also is a certified trauma-informed/healing-centered yoga instructor and transported that training to Greece and gentrified areas of Los Angeles, teaching yoga and meditation practices to refugee and displaced populations (Yoga to the Displaced People). As a poet, speaker and actress, alhassen has performed on the TED stage ("A Poem for Syria: Beyond a Geography of Violence"), Kennedy center, Shrine auditorium and countless universities in the U.S. and internationally. Lastly, alhassen has worked throughout the media landscape as a guest co-host on Al Jazeera English's "The Stream" and on The Young Turks. She's been a featured contributor on CNN, NPR, CBC, Fusion, BET, HuffPost, ATTN, Splinter, and written for CNN, Mic, Boston Review, Huffington Post, La Vanguardia, The Baffler, and CounterPunch (and peer-reviewed academic journals).
Iqbal Bhai has been an artist and architect for over a quarter century. He is deeply moved by music, especially the Rabaab, as a source of inspiration, and will be joining the musicians on stage with live painting.
Artist and grant winner Yasmeen Rasheed :
Yasmeen Rasheed is an artist of varying mediums. While she works as a digital designer by day, she creates illustrative conceptual artwork by night. Yasmeen has bachelors in Fine Arts degree with a concentration in graphic design. Her work tends to be autobiographical, depicting her beliefs and experiences with spirituality, mental health, and the visual juxtaposition of beauty with the macabre.
Artist and grant winner Gabril Garai:
Gabril’s art is a mixture of urban/abstract expressionism and sometimes Islamic calligraphy. Gabriel Garay is an Artist based out of California U.S.A. Gabril’s Art experience is heavily influenced by Graffiti and Street art due to him being part of that subculture for over ten years. After embracing Islam in 2002 Gabril has found a new love in the Islamic Arts which he infuses in his paintings. Gabril is a self taught artist and is constantly exploring other mediums. He currently works with various organizations that reach out to the youth by means of the arts. Gabril has gained world recognition for his unique art and life story, and has been invited across the globe to various institutions of learning where he speaks on art, culture, religion, and the western Muslim experience.
Artist and grant winner Tamara Shoubber:
Tamara Shoubber is a student, designer, and penguin lover from the Bay Area Muslim community! She is currently studying Cognitive & Computer Science at UC Davis and enjoys graphic designing in her free time. Tamara understands that the sharing of one's experience with mental health and illness is absolutely vital for the community as a whole to foster empathy and understanding and, ultimately, finding holistic and thorough solutions. It is a conversation that needs to be rooted and flourished in the Muslim communities--we all play our role!
Qais Essar is a contemporary Afghan composer, instrumentalist and producer who channels his melodic designs through the rabab, a 2,500 year old instrument from Afghanistan. Essar continues to be featured in festivals and venues around the world including the Newport Folk Festival, SXSW, The Kennedy Center, Treefort Music Festival and more. Essar released his 3rd album, The Ghost You Love Most to critical acclaim.
Son of a Libyan revolutionary, This is Kayem is a Chicago-based hip hop artist who was born into the struggle. His father was a political prisoner who helped form a pro-democracy movement after escaping prison. Yahoo! Music listed Kayem’s showcase at South by Southwest 2017 as “The 6 Best Things We Saw at SXSW” and he was listed as one of CNN’s “Most Interesting People”. He has also been featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Complex Mag, The New York Times, and more. Kayem relaunched his career with a name-change in 2017 after having to step away due to government restrictions. He detailed his experience on “Intercepted”, where he was a guest along with Edward Snowden.
With a story fit for a Hollywood script and a loyal, hungry international fan base, there’s no question Kayem’s time is now.


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