WE SPEAK MURAL celebrates its 20th anniversary with first exhibition this year in the Columbia River Gorge at the SPRING HUMANITIES SERIES: VOICES LESS HEARD sponsored by Columbia Gorge Community College. my arab american panel reflects on the 500 years (1492—1992) of Columbus in the Americas as it relates to being an arab american. thirteen other panels of the WE SPEAK done by asian american, african american, latinos, and native americans are on display this month in Hood River, White Salmon, and The Dalles.
on wednesday, April 18, i will be presenting with Seidel Standingelk, and one of the ALANA mural organizers, Elizabeth Perry, at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River.
please see the new WE SPEAK blog with more information and views of all the murals with a map of locations to download if you're able to visit the beautiful Columbia River gorge and visit the murals in person.
here's the text from my artist's statement above adapted from the 4 pages in the original 1992 brochure:
Artist’s Statement (1992)
“Salaam (Peace)—An Arab American Voice”. The Columbus legacy began by brutally denying the integrity of the indigenous people on this continent. Racism and lack of respect for diversity has continued through the course of North American history. If a people were not of the ruling class and color, they were typically exploited, stereotyped, abused, scapegoated, and oppressed. Beginning with indigenous peoples, the pattern continued through each successive wave of immigrants subsequently arriving. Most recently targeted are Arabs and Muslims.
A montage of images in a geometric design depicts the Arab experience in America: from the first wave of Arab immigrants in the late 1800s through the present resistance by ADC (American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) and peace demonstrators, and including Detroit auto workers, Yemini farm workers, political activists Alex Odeh and the LA 8—politi-cal prisioners used as a test case to round up Arab Americans similar to the Japanese Americans internment camps in 1942. Together with oppression/resistance are images of strength and inspiration—the flowering of our culture within the constraints of racism. The border includes portraits of Arab Americans, who have contributed to the country: Khalil Gibran, Ralph Nader, Christa McAuliffe, Naomi Shihab Nye, Helen Thomas, Casey Kasem, Alixa Naff, Danny Thomas, Mary Rose Oakar, Candy Lightner, James Abourizk, Fadwa El Guindi, Salma Jayyusi, Edward Said, and Rosalind Ellis. Interspersed are culturally significant icons; along the bottom are Arabic contributions to civilization with the Arabic word for peace, SALAAM, in the center. The central figures in the Arabic arch represent 3 generations: the heavenly wisdom of the ancestors—the grandmother (Sitto) holding the olive branch for peace, the Mother/present generation, also grounded on the earth, carrying a child—the hope for the future, for peace, a healthy planet, and affirming the importance of family in Arab culture.