The Islamic Art Revival Series returns to Dallas in 2013 with a revamped presence. This Saturday, September 21, 2013, Dallas residents and visitors of all ages, faiths, and cultures are invited to a unique opportunity to experience a visual and cultural performance of Islamic Art representing the diversity of the Muslim heritage throughout time and space. The one day event including dance, song, and art performances takes place Saturday from 10:00 am till 5:00 pm at the Charles W. Eisemann Center in Richardson. The exhibition of the art pieces display continues to be available for public viewing at the same location through September 28, from 10:00 am till 6:00 pm on Mondays through Saturdays.
Last year's Islamic Art Revival Series event was visited by some 1300 North Texans who enjoyed a whole day's activities that included a Middle Eastern fashion show, lectures, stage performances, puppet shows, art exhibition, henna, Arabic and Islamic calligraphy and taking pictures with traditional Muslim and ethnic clothing.
As goes every Texan tradition, this year's event, the second annual Islamic Art Revival Series is even bigger and better. A gallery-styled exhibition displays some 50 art pieces by 34 artists from the United States, Canada, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran and the United Kingdom. This year's new attractions include folkloric performances by traditional dabke dances. Dabke is a folkloric Arabic step dance that is common in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq. IARS will include two different groups performing dabke tomorrow: Dallas-based Firket Bladi, first place winner of first Dabke competition earlier this year, and the Iraqi Dabke troupe that includes fourteen dancers.
Other performances include songs and music by Fez Meghani and Aftab Ali which participated in local and international events like the 2010 and 2011 in Islamic Music Festivals in Kuala Lampur. These performances are known for their messages of hope, peace, love and compassion; such needed virtues for our unsettled and chaotic times.
"Art truly is a universal language," says Nadia Mavrakis, IARS co-founder and executive board member. "Appreciating beauty in art sustains us because beauty endures and crosses boundaries, man-made or otherwise. This event gives us the opportunity to share our visual and performing arts with our neighbors and co-workers."
One question remains, though: Why Dallas, why Texas?
Texas enjoys the cultural diversity that includes some 140,000 Muslim residents according to the Texas State Historical Association. There could be no better place to showcase this cultural diversity through art, among other ways. When people shut off the means of communication, when ideologies kidnap intellects, and when hate speech takes over the rhetoric, perhaps one of the ways to restore order and our celebration of cultural diversity is through art. Art open the hearts, which will allow eyes to see and ears to hear. On the other hand, Dallas has roots into Islamic inspirations: famous American architect Phillip Johnson was inspired by the curvilinear design of the renowned Great Mosque of Samarra’s Al-Malwia, freestanding minaret of Iraq; hence he designed Thanksgiving square chapel in 1976.
IARS is a dedicated contributor to the culture of North Texas: it brought to us in May 2012 a Dallas premiere of a Unity Productions Foundations film, Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World at the Dallas Museum of Art. The film has been broadcast on PBS a few times as well. It is so significant and beautifully produced that it made it on a list of other documentaries and 25 books about Islam and Muslim that were included in a grant presented to national libraries, the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. This grant has been presented to local libraries like UTA, TCU, and Irving libraries. This grant has been facilitated by many contributors included our own Texas Muslim Women's Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non profit which also helped bring IARS to Dallas this year.
Tickets are $8.50 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, $3 for children 3-12, and free for children 2 and under.
Dallas, please help me welcome IARS 2013 and let us show some Texas hospitality. Y'all are going to love what you will see Saturday, September 21.