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First art show entirely by North Texas Muslims is Saturday in Addison

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Courtesy of CAIR: Council on American Islamic Relations - Texas
"Three Hijabi Girls," painting by Bismah Syed. On display at Venue Forty50, as part of The Divine Beauty

"The Divine Beauty" will feature a range of work from local artists, from painting and ceramics to comedy performances and singing.

It's called "The Divine Beauty," and it's like no other show. It's the first exhibition devoted to contemporary art by North Texas Muslims. You can see it Saturday at Venue Forty50 in Addison.

When asked if the timing of the exhibition was deliberate — opposite the Dallas Museum of Art's current eye-dazzler, "Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity," Faizan Syed laughed. Syed is the executive director of the Council of American Islamic Relations for Texas, which is hosting the show.

Actually, Syed said, there are any number of Muslim artworks on display in the area, all of them worthwhile. But "The Divine Beauty" was "created with living artists in mind."

It was also created to counter different stereotypes both inside and outside the Muslim community.

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Courtesy of CAIR - Council on American Islamic Relations - Texas
Earrings by Hiba Rashid

The Muslim community in the United States is widely diverse, Syed said, "the most diverse religious community in America." Even so, many people still see Muslims solely through the war on terror.

At the same time, two-thirds of American Muslims are immigrants. Syed said there's a very strong emphasis on entering careers in science, technology and medicine.

For many American Muslims, being an artist of any kind is low on the priority list, Syed said. It's simply not practical.

"So not only are we trying to break anti-Muslim stereotypes," Syed said, "we really want them to start thinking about our community as a community that produces beauty, that produces art. And we're doing it right here in Dallas."

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Courtesy of CAIR - Council on American Islamic Relations - Texas
"Heart with Sunglasses" by Yasmeen Mohammed

Another reason for the show, Syed said, is to inspire a new generation. After all, Islam has a long, wide and rich arts history to draw on.

But the works on display — and for sale — in "The Divine Beauty" go beyond traditional Muslim forms like calligraphy. And they go beyond expressly religious themes. The one-day show includes paintings, ceramics, jewelry, craftwork, singing, spoken-word and comedy performances.

There'll also be light hors d'oeuvres and a children's section.

"The Divine Beauty," the first Dallas Muslim Art Exhibition, is Saturday, 3 p.m.-9 p.m., at Venue Forty50, 4050 Belt Line Road in Addison. Call 972-715-3232 for more details.

Got a tip? Email Jerome Weeks at jweeks@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @dazeandweex.

Art&Seek is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.