What does it mean to be a Muslim woman in Waterloo Region? The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW’s new art exhibition, Celebrating Identity, aims to answer this question.
“This exhibition will be celebrating the complex, often multi-layered identities that often exist in first generation immigrants, with a focus on what it means to be a Canadian and Ontarian for newcomer Muslim women,” explained Ala’ Al-Thibeh, curator of Celebrating Identity.
Participating artists, all of whom are newcomer or immigrant Muslim women, are submitting artwork based on this year’s theme. How they interpret the theme, however, is up to them.
The goal of the exhibition is to highlight diverse art and culture to the public, and to help connect the artists with the local arts community, as well as with the public in general. Many of the artists are new to the region and haven’t had a chance to interact with others, or publicly display their art. By participating, they will be able to engage with the wider community and boost awareness of their work.
“Creating a sense of belonging helps create a safe space for newcomer Muslim women and youth,” said Ala’. “It also helps cherish their own voices while being able to provide them with opportunities to explore their identity and to further grow as future leaders within our community.”
Ala’ also noted that the exhibition will work towards bridging gaps between the Muslim community and the larger Waterloo Region community as a whole. It will help reduce isolation that many Muslim women face, and allow them to make their voices heard through their art.
“It will help build a positive image of Muslim women, and counter negative stereotypes about them in society,” she added.
The exhibition also coincides with three other national celebrations: Women’s History Month, Islamic History Month, and Canada’s 150th. Celebrating Identity will highlight topics related to all three movements.
“Art is a universal language,” said Fauzia Mazhar, Chair of the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW. “It brings people together in the most powerful ways.”
Celebrating Identity runs from October 4th to October 31st, and will be on display at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener.