A grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) will help Lafayette fund a 30-month program to increase understanding among young adults for art and culture in contemporary Muslim societies.

With the $204,000 grant from APAP’s “Building Bridges: Arts, Culture, and Identity program,” Lafayette is hosting “‘I Am Muslim’: Experiencing the Arts of Contemporary Muslim Societies” at the Williams Center for the Arts. The program offers a series of arts festivals and learning opportunities to provide an ongoing campus-community forum for dialogue to increase knowledge, understanding, and appreciation among college students and other young adults of the great diversity of Muslim societies and artistic expression. The program began Sept. 1, 2016 and will continue through Feb. 28, 2019.

The APAP grant is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

“We are pleased with the innovative approaches and the range of communities that will benefit from this new round of awards.  It shows that there is a growing commitment towards using the arts as a strategy to lead positive change around the awareness and perceptions of Muslim identity in this country,” says Scott Stoner, vice president of programs and resources at APAP. “The projects are truly inspiring and will create opportunities for both campus and community audiences to participate in a more meaningful way with artists and their work.”

“‘I Am Muslim’: Experiencing the Arts of Contemporary Muslim Societies” leverages Lafayette’s strengths in social justice and the arts and focuses on building connected communities. The project is led by Jennifer Kelly, associate professor of music and director of the arts; Hollis Ashby, artistic and executive director of the performance series of the Williams Center for the Arts; and Alex Hendrickson, director of religious and spiritual life and college chaplain.

On campus, the project connects Muslims and non-Muslims. In the larger community it engages young people in the Lehigh Valley area. Together, participants explore a rich variety of Muslim artistic voices and perspectives while seeking to break down barriers among peoples and cultures, challenge assumptions and prejudices, and foster connections and understanding.

Over a 30-month period and working in collaboration with a group of Williams Center Performance Series visiting artists, Lafayette and the College’s partners will curate a sequence of three festivals (two in autumn 2017 and 2018 and another in spring 2018) designed to recognize, explore, and celebrate artistic expression and meaning in contemporary Muslim cultures throughout the world and in the U.S.

Each festival will build upon core performances by Muslim artists as part of the performance series. These and other visiting artists participate in campus and community residencies connecting music, theater, and dance with a wide array of disciplines, such as Africana studies, anthropology and sociology, creative writing, engineering, film and media studies, history, international affairs, mathematics, natural sciences, philosophy, religious studies, and the visual arts. The artist residencies will include workshops, master classes, demonstrations, studio sessions, lectures, panel discussions, readings, writing labs, and learning groups occurring both on campus and in the community.

4 Comments

  1. Farhana Chowdhury says:

    this is simply amazing. i am looking into this college and to see such respect being paid to Muslims is simply heartwarming and welcoming!

  2. Lynn Alexander says:

    Looking forward to this, and the learning and engagement with our community. The efforts to make this happen are appreciated.

  3. Robin Malloy says:

    About 10 years ago, I saw an exhibition of quilts at the Birmingham England Art Museum. The quilts were made by immigrant women, mostly Muslim, then living in England. It was very powerful to see how they connected their home and spiritual lives with the assimilation into a British life. If you can somehow get that exhibit to travel to Lafayette, I think it would be quite powerful.

  4. Amy Blythe says:

    Love this!

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