2nd Annual Islamic Art Revival Series Experience 2013 set for Sept. 21 at the Eisemann in Richardson

Henna artist paints intricate designs on the hands of young women at the Islamic Art Revival Series Experience. This year's cultural event occurs Sept. 21 at the Eisemann Center in Richardson. Photo by Alia Salem.

The Islamic Art Revival Series (IARS) Experience and Art Exhibition offer North Texans a unique opportunity for people of all ages, faiths and cultures to personally experience the rich and varied visual and performing arts of the Islamic world. Last year, more than 1,300 attendees from diverse backgrounds enjoyed special activities and art attractions at the community wide event. The 2nd annual IARS Experience is set for Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Charles W. Eisemann Center in Richardson.

The 2nd Annual Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Islamic Art is broadened and revamped to be a major part of the IARS Experience. The exhibition is set up gallery-style to allow free movement between the art displayed. Some 50 pieces of art representing 34 artists from the United States, Canada, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran and the United Kingdom will be presented. Nada Shabout, associate professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of North Texas and director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute (CAMCSI), serves as the exhibition juror. A catalog of the exhibition will be available at the Sept. 21 event.

Additionally, the art exhibition will continue to be on display through Sept. 28 at the Eisemann from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and during public events.

Well-liked activities from last year’s event—having your name written in Arabic, applying intricate henna designs to your hand, and trying on ethnic clothing for a take-home photograph—are back by popular demand. New attractions this year are traditional dabke dance performances, plus other new performers and storytellers.

Dabke is a traditional folkloric step dance. Dances will be performed by Firqet Bladi, a Dallas-based dance ensemble. The group won first place at the first Dallas dabke competition held earlier this year. The 14-person Iraqi Dabke Troupe will also perform. While the music and origins differ between the two dance teams, the uniformity, solidarity, and motivation are the same for both troupes— preservation of a unique cultural art.

Singers, songwriters and producers Fez Meghani and Aftab Ali will present their music which focuses on conveying the values of hope, peace, love, generosity, and kindness. They have appeared nationally and internationally, including the 2010 and 2011 Islamic Music Festivals in Kuala Lumpur.

“As we go about our lives, we are pelted with unsettling, bad news throughout the world,” says Nadia Mavrakis, IARS co-founder and executive board member. “Yet there are over one billion Muslims around the globe who strive to live beautiful and peaceful lives. Art is an integral part of that. Art truly is a universal language. 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 coworkers.”

With its plethora of cultural diversity, one of the attributes of living in Texas is the special opportunity residents have to build cultural bridges within the state’s diverse population, which includes over 140,000 Muslims (according to the Texas State Historical Association). IARS demonstrates this diversity by showcasing art from across the Islamic world that appeals to people of all ages. Islamic Art Revival Series events add to the rich cultural heritage of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Tickets are $8.50 for adults, $6 for students/seniors, $3 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children 2 and under. The Charles W. Eisemann Center is located at 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson.

Founded in North Texas in 2011, Islamic Art Revival Series hosts events that promote education on the arts of the Islamic world and encourage vibrant cross-cultural exchange among all faiths and cultures. These events build bridges using the universal beauty of Islamic art as a connector and translator across generations and cultures—from heart to heart through time. IARS held its first event in May 2012 with the Dallas premiere of a Unity Productions Foundation film Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World at the Dallas Museum of Art. The first Islamic Art Revival Series Experience was held last September.

IARS is a program of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. IARS depends largely on the generous sponsorship of people, businesses, and organizations including the City of Richardson who has funded the 2013 IARS season through the Richardson Arts Commission; Art of Islam Pattern; Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute (CAMCSI); Fun Asia; Crow Collection of Asian Art; Diversity Wealth; Shanze Enterprises, Inc.; Baja Auto Insurance; Aisha Waheed; Radio Azad; Madi Museum; Laila Hirjee; Sikander Pirani; Saleem Rajani; Arab Acquisitions & Business Development; United Cellular, Inc.; Square Domain; Islamic Community Center of North Texas; Noor Darwazeh: A Freelance Designer; American Muslim Professionals of Dallas (AMP’D); Legacy of Timbuktu, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History; Thanks-Giving Square Foundation; Afrah Mediterranean Restaurant and Pastries. 

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