Exhibitions of Self Portraits by Muslims from Bahrain and North Carolina Open Jan. 9
The exhibition “Esse Quam Videri: Self Portraits by Bahraini Muslims” will open on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in the Guilford College Art Gallery in Hege Library on campus. A related exhibition, “Esse Quam Videri: American Muslims’ Self Portraits” will open concurrently at the Center for Principled Problem Solving in King Hall Room 126.
An opening reception will take place in the Art Gallery from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, with comments at 5:30 p.m. by Todd Drake, artist and collaborator for the exhibitions. Regular hours for the Art Gallery are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 2-5 p.m. on Sundays during the regular academic year. The exhibition in King Hall may be viewed by appointment; call 336-316-2180. The College will be closed Jan. 16 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Related events, all of which are free and open to the public, are:
• Jan. 25, 1:30 p.m., “Me, Myself as a Muslim,” a panel of Muslim students (King Hall Room 126).
• Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m., Poetic Portraits of a Revolution: a multimedia spoken word performance by Will McInerney, Kane Smego, Mohammad Moussa and Sameer Abdel-khalek (Art Gallery).
• Feb. 22, 5-6:30 p.m., film The Noble Struggle of Amina Wadud, part of the Women and Islam series, panel discussion following facilitated by Assistant Professor of English Diya Abdo (Art Gallery).
Currently an artist in residence at the UNC Center for Global Initiatives, community-based, North Carolina artist Todd Drake has worked with the American Muslim community for the past four years to create a traveling exhibition titled “Esse Quam Videri (To be, rather than to seem): American Muslims’ Self Portraits.” The exhibition explores the concept of self-identity and includes photographs, collaged images and self-drawn portraits, accompanied by short essays.
During this exhibition’s national tour, which was sponsored by the UNC Center for Global Initiatives and included venues in Michigan, New York, Rhode Island and North Carolina, the project gained the attention of a United Nations representative in Bahrain, who recommended that Drake and the exhibition come to Bahrain. Supported by a grant from the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain, Drake and Bahraini artists collaborated for two weeks in May 2011, to create a series of self portraits that quietly model examples of cooperation and understanding.
During two series of workshops led by Drake at the Bahrain Arts Society in Manama, Bahrainis from all walks of life – Sunni and Shia, young and old, novice and experienced photographers – came together to learn better photographic practices. Participants were challenged to create engaging self portraits that shared more than the headlines on what it meant to be Bahraini at this time in history.
“The outpouring of images and ideas was overwhelming. The depth and breadth of their window on being Bahraini today is moving and informative,” says Drake. “We had expected no more than 20 participants per workshop and ended up with over 50 regular participants.”
Drake creates art that is shaped by community. As a Rockefeller Fellow with the UNC Center for Global Initiatives in 2004-05, Drake co-created with Dr. Hannah Gill the book Going to Carolina del Norte, Narrating Mexican Migrant Experiences. He has also worked collaboratively with undocumented immigrants to create a picture book Give Me Eyes: Crossing Borders to the Heart. A painter and photographer, Drake has worked with a wide variety of communities including patients at an Alzheimer’s nursing home, employees at an exotic night club, long distance truck drivers, and refugees from Vietnam to create the large painting series “et al.”
Drake has exhibited nationally including galleries in Washington D.C., Chicago, Charlotte, in museums such as the Weatherspoon Art Museum and SECCA, and is in private collections on both coasts. He has an MFA in painting from UNCG, teaches studio art, and speaks on activism in contemporary art.
Co-sponsors for the exhibition are the Center for Principled Problem Solving and the American Friends Service Committee.