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New Exhibition Celebrates Arab American Heritage Month “We Love Life Whenever We Can” will be on display at W&L’s Leyburn Library April 1 through Dec. 8, 2023.

ultrawide-lrg-1-2-600x400 New Exhibition Celebrates Arab American Heritage MonthTHOWRA I, 2011, Photograph, Sama Alshaibi

In 2021, President Joe Biden officially recognized April as National Arab American Heritage Month. To commemorate this acknowledgment and celebrate the contributions of Arab American artists, the Museums at W&L partnered with the Arab American National Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate and the first and only museum of its kind in the United States devoted to documenting, preserving and presenting the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans. Drawn from their collection, “We Love Life Whenever We Can,” the exhibit presents the cultural, historical and political legacies of five dynamic artists and scholars of Arab origin. It features the artwork of Mary Tuma, John Halaka, Youmna Chlala, Sama Alshaibi and Dena Al-Adeeb.

“This exhibition supports the university’s mission of preparing students for engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society,” said Jumana Al-Ahmad, W&L visiting assistant professor of Arabic. “It is an enriching opportunity for students to examine how Arab American artists engage with social justice issues. In particular, the students who study Middle Eastern studies and Arabic language and culture classes offered through the Middle East and South Asia Studies Program (MESA) will benefit from this exhibition as they explore artistic expressions of issues that they learn about from multiple academic disciplines.”

Professor Al-Ahmad will lead a Lunch and Learn lecture, “Arab Women’s Art and Activism for Social Justice,” on Monday, April 3 from 12:15 – 1 p.m. in Leyburn 119. The event will include a Mediterranean lunch, and all are welcome. Reservations are required and can be made at go.wlu.edu/arabwomensart.

“Our collection currently includes one artist of Afro-Arab origin, Almigdad Aldikhaiiry, whose paintings on the health and economic impact of COVID-19 were acquired in 2021 thanks to the generous support of the Leyburn Library, the Center for Global Learning and the W&L Department of Biology. The paintings are currently displayed in the Harte Center and were originally curated by students in ARTH 398: Seminar in Museum Studies,” said Isra El-beshir, director of Museums at W&L. “This is our continued effort to deepen our impact and expose our community to art that provokes, educates and inspires an appreciation of art, history and culture.”

For more information, visit tiny.cc/AANM23.