I grew up in a homogenous conservative Christian environment where “others” who looked and believed differently were suspect. But as I began to travel internationally in high school & college, I started to recognize the common elements in all of those imago Dei— made in the image of God.
As I sifted through images from 13 years of living and working in sub Saharan Africa as a community/spiritual development practitioner and photographer/filmmaker, the theme of GALLERY OF MUSLIM EXPRESSION came to mind. The media and our peers too often define what we should believe and think of “others” and we’re often too content with that to explore further; to get out of our comfort zones and be willing to engage those who may be very different from us.
My family helped me to choose each image based on quality & visual impact but it also came down to two simple rubrics: 1) would we be eager to have the photo hanging on our own walls, 2) does it say something about Muslim culture? Nine images come from the Muslim Yawo world I was intimately embedded in for 13 years in Malawi and Mozambique; one image is of a Makhua Muslim baker living on Mozambique Island; two images are from Kazakhstan where I traveled on a documentary project and a lone image comes from a layover in Doha, Qatar. Invariably, no matter where I find myself, the Muslim peoples I interact with are warm and caring. None have fit the stereotype I was given in my formative years and to which much of my extended network still believe. Probably because they’ve never actually met a Muslim.
I still very much identify with my faith as a follower of Jesus, but find myself struggling of late with labels. My experiences in other cultures shape the work I do now as a people-oriented digital storyteller for various non-profits and businesses. Locally I’m the founder of The ESL Cafe and NewPortlanders.net as well as the media director for Refugee Volunteer Organization (RefVolPDX.org).
Scroll through the images below.
Please note cropping on prints may be different from what is displayed below.
Pilgrim in Turkistan $200 20x20, $70 10x10
Hoping for Chambo (Malawi) $300 20x30, $80 11x17
Mama Musa (Malawi) $300 20x30, $80 11x17
Biking Mama (Mozambique) $300 20x30, $80 11x17
Yawo Chief (Mozambique) $200 20x20, $70 10x10
Midst of the Storm (Mozambique) $300 20x40, $80 10x20
The Baker of Mozambique Island $300 20x30, $80 11x17
Siyala (Mozambique) $300 20x30, $80 11x17
Yawo Woman (Mozambique) $250 16x30, $80 10x20
Dancing Sikili (Mozambique Yawo) $250 16x30, $80 10x20
Doha Waters $300 20x30, $80 11x17
Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi $275 20x30, $80 11x17
Yawo Sheik $230 20x24, $70 10x10
Payment can be made through PayPal, Venmo, Square, check, cash, etc.
All prints created on stunningly vibrant metal through Bay Photo Lab.
October 2018 @ Symposium Cafe, Tigard OR
This was my final showing of the year.
September 2018 @ Symposium Cafe, Sherwood OR
For September my work was displayed at Symposium Coffee located at 22461 SW Pine St, Sherwood, OR 97140 (503) 625-2137. I also was able to participate in Sherwood's Art Walk from 5-8PM on Thur, Sept 6.
August 2018 @ Intent Coffee, Gresham OR
Intent Coffee at 3030 NE Hogan Dr Ste C in Gresham hosted my art during the month of August. We had an artist reception on Sunday, August 19th from 1-3PM immediately following the Walk with Refugees & Immigrants. (Facebook event link)
June 2018 in Beaverton, OR @ Murray's Coffee Bar
For my first gallery style showing, we focused on World Refugee Day and held an artist reception on June 20th along with a world market in which displaced peoples (refugee & immigrant), mostly from a Muslim background, came and sold their hand made goods.
We were honored to share the evening with the following people:
Diaspora Coffee & Chai
Faaten Abduhayy, world-class baker
Faaten Abduhayy is a master of Middle Eastern baking. A Syrian native, she moved to Portland via a Turkish refugee camp with her husband and three young children in December 2016. Since her arrival, Faaten has learned to drive and studies English. She provides full-time care for her husband who suffered a spinal cord injury after being shot with a sniper’s bullet. Faaten has emerged as a leader within the local Arabic community. She loves to use her creative energy in the kitchen. Her baked goods range from sweet to savory, baklava to fatyr, and are popular at bake sales and private events.
Lamiaa, the plate painter
Sahar Alnajjar, Bassam's local honey
Samer Aj, abstract painter
Samer is from Damascus in Syria and arrived in Portland two years ago. He is a graduate of the Department of Visual Communication at the University of Damascus and has shown his work in several exhibitions in Damascus, Syria and Istanbul, Turkey.
Sarah Zareen, Ishq Creams
"Ishq (ee-shuh-quh) in Urdu means Love. The line of moisturizing creams is inspired by the stages of love in the Sufi tradition - Luthf (made with organic lavender essential oil, the first stage of love when everything is perfect and relaxing), Junoon (infused with pure jasmine perfume oil, the second stage of Passion when love drives both the beloveds to a state of frenzy) and, Fanaa (saturated with organic frankincense essential oil, one of the final stages where you, your beloved and love become one, when the ethereal lines blend with no beginning and no end).
We are surrounded by negativity, and my prayer is for the people using Ishq Creams to be enveloped by all the love and goodness that's put in it. That they be assured no one has been harmed in it's making, that what they're putting on their skin is pure. My prayer is for Ishq Creams' clients to feel accepted, to feel like they are home.
I'm inspired by the Prophetic way of life, of infusing good in everything that you do, of making sure that you are of service to humanity. The Prophetic way also encourages us to be conscious and respectful of nature. Divine energy is all around us. We only need to take one step towards It, and It'll take ten towards us." -Sarah
Sushmita Poddar, henna artist