Painters, poets, musicians, and filmmakers based in Calgary, Canada produced an art combining cultural and religious identities to represent the beauty of Islam through art.
Sumaya Bernier, a female musician said she had never seen an Islamic value shown in the films she watched, books she read or artworks she admired.
When she was 15, she took a blank sheet of paper from her father’s printer, walked into his room, and began to scribble on it. Bernier drew girls with blonde hair and blue eyes.
“A lot of times I remember I was going to make them Disney princesses or Bratz dolls, which were my favorites at that time,” she said as mentioned by CBC News on Sunday.
At that age, she felt there was a lack of representation of Islamic culture and religion in the Western media and it was also inaccurate.
“Living in Canada and West country, there isn’t much positive or accurate representation of Muslims and Islam in the media,” she said.
“We see a lot of trope of terrorists and muslimah must be corrected, for example where in shows and films showing muslimahs would takes off her hijab for the sake of love, which is a very bad and also negative representation of Islam,” she continued.
Driven by the ambition to represent Islam, Bernier began to create art representing who she is as a Muslimah.
She painted the Kaaba in Mecca in the Vincent Van Gogh style, so the painting was a combination of famous European painter style and Islamic architecture and symbols.
“I have ambitions to represent Islam and want to show the truth and beauty of the religion,” she added.
Artistic contributions and creativity influence artistic disciplines including architecture, calligraphy, textiles, ceramics and glass work. We can see the influences in Europe and its arts such as the exterior of the Monreale Cathedral, Sicily which is greatly influenced by Islamic architecture.
In Italian Renaissance paintings, it had decorative motifs that similar to the Kufic script
Carpets from the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk state of Egypt were also used as an important decorative features in painting from the 13th century onwards, especially in religious painting.
“However, Muslims and Islam are often being misunderstood” she said.
Over the past two years in Canada, Muslims have been killed, assaulted and publicly harassed because they are trying to represent their religion.
Mim Fatmi, President of the Muslim West Initiative said, for a decade, her organization has gathered Muslim artists at an annual art show so they have meaningful relationships between each other.
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“We are still experiencing Islamophobia in general, where it feels like we are still kind of alienated and still not fully a part of the society,” she said.
Her organization had held an annual event held in 2019 exhibiting artwork created by Calgary’s Muslim community.
The Muslim West Initiative holds another exhibiting artworks for muslim artists so they can build good relationships with each other and also Canadians.
“Fortunately, I think the event has had a significant impact, but yet there are still people who have never really met or connected meaningfully with Muslims,” said Fatmi.
“Moreover, really feel the art, artistic, contributions, or creativity that Muslims offer,” she said.
Muslim artists from a various of disciplinary backgrounds including music, fine arts, poetry and film gather regularly to bridge the gap between the two worlds, the Islamic world and Canadian culture.
Some artists have even discovered the deeper meaning of Islam for themselves, starting with art. (T/ri/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)