Converging Lines: Tracing the Artistic Lineage of the Arab Diaspora in the U.S.

10 September - 17 November 2021
  • Curated by Maymanah Farhat

     

  • Artists belonging to the Arab diaspora in the United States have contributed to the development of American art since the...

    Corps bleu (Bribes de corpes), 1973 by Huguette Caland

    Courtesy of Huguette Caland Estate

    Artists belonging to the Arab diaspora in the United States have contributed to the development of American art since the early twentieth century, yet the story of this artistic community has rarely been considered. Converging Lines: Tracing the Artistic Lineage of the Arab Diaspora in the U.S. seeks to unearth this history by identifying some of the aesthetic threads that connect a diverse, multigenerational group of artists, thus offering a template for future scholarship. 

     

    One of the most prominent themes explored by Arab American and U.S based Arab artists over the last seventy-five years has been the process of migration and the state of in-betweenness that often results. Beginning with the work of Kahlil Gibran, a member of the earliest known Arab American creative community, the exhibition explores how artists have used concepts like third spaces, community building, hybridity, and memory formation in works that allude to the complexities of migration, including invisibility, alienation, intergenerational trauma, and changing identities. 

     

    Aesthetics have been crucial to forming this distinct view of American life, as ongoing experimentation has allowed artists to address evolving communities in the U.S. and beyond. From mystical, symbolist drawings to disorientating mixed-media objects, the featured works range from reflections of longing and introspection to calls for new ways of seeing and cultural rebellion. In this sense, Converging Lines traces the artistic lineage of shape-shifting artists who have embraced subjectivity as a way of claiming their place in American art and subverting dominant narratives.     

     

    Featured artists: Etel Adnan, Sama Alshaibi, Zeina Barakeh, Kamal Boullata, Huguette Caland, Yasmine Nasser Diaz, Dahlia Elsayed, Kahlil Gibran, Sherin Guirguis, Helen Khal, John Halaka, Jackie Milad, Mohammed Omar Khalil, Zeinab Saab, Jacqueline Reem Salloum, Nazar Yahya, and Helen Zughaib.

     

    The full exhibition can be viewed here

     

    This exhibition and its programming have been supported by Betty H. Sams, Ammanda Seelye Salzman, Peter and Ann Tanous, and Gretchen and David Welch.