By Barbara Falconer Newhall
My book is pretty much done. But I still need to find myself a few more people to interview. A nice, talkative Muslim woman with lots of thoughts and stories, for one.
I’ve interviewed dozens of people for my book. It’s working title is Wrestling With God: True Stories of Religion and Spirituality, as Told to a Hopeful Skeptic. I’ve heard the stories of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and even an atheist or two.
But there are still a few religious traditions that are underrepresented in my book. I could use a Taoist, for example. Also another Jew. And a Muslim. And more women.
Soooo. When I found out that an Islamic art exhibit was being held starting yesterday at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California in Oakland — I thought, yes, here’s my chance to find myself a Muslim to interview. A Muslim woman. An artist.
The exhibit hall was crowded with artists and their fans when I arrived. Some artists, it turned out, were as young as 11. Others had been painting professionally for decades.
I found several works that I admired — paintings and drawings by Nabeela Raza Sajjad, Fatima Ozgun and Salma Arastu caught my eye.
But the art work I enjoyed the most was the handiwork of an 11-year-boy, Mohammad Saeed. Mohammad’s “Day and Night” features the darkness of night disappearing behind, get this — a zipper. Genius!
I met at least two artists — Nabeela and Salma — who seemed to have what I need in an interviewee: they’re both intelligent, articulate, charming and passionate about their tradition. We’ll see if they have stories they want to tell — or know some people who do.
The exhibit is sponsored by Islamic Art Exhibit, a non-profit group Nabeela founded in 2009. The theme of this year’s show is “The Miracle of Quran;” the artists took verses from the Quran as their inspiration.
Most of the artists represented here are amateurs. Salma told me about another exhibit — strictly professional — currently at the Marin Community Foundation called “Muslim Eyes.”
Enjoy the pictures. I loved taking them. And I loved meeting the artists.
Photos by Barbara Falconer Newhall
Islamic Art Exhibit , “The Miracle of the Quran,” April 1-28, 2012, Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, 1433 Madison Street, Oakland, CA 94612. For details contact 510-832-7600.
“Muslim Eyes,” Marin Community Foundation, Novato, through May 31, 2012.