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Saudi contemporary artists open dialogue in the heart of Arab America
Wijha 2:148–And everyone has a direction to which they should turn, 2013. Digital Lenticular Print mounted on Aluminum, 64.5 x 118 in (164 x 300 cm).

DEARBORN, MICH.- Both Dearborn, Michigan, and Saudi Arabia serve as iconic social and cultural epicenters. Dearborn lays claim to the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the U.S. (and in any major city outside of the Middle East and North Africa), and has been the final destination for immigrants from the Arab World for nearly a century. Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest sites of Islam and functions at a crossroads of culture, most notably during the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, known as Hajj.

Epicenter X explores contemporary Saudi culture by promoting meaningful dialogue between Saudi artists and U.S. audiences. Cutting through the political discourse of media outlets and government officials, the artworks featured in this exhibition open doors to the lives of the Saudi people. In doing so, this presentation challenges common views and stereotypes of Arab culture by lending a voice to artists exploring poignant ideas centered on urbanization, globalization, religion and the impact of American popular culture in Saudi society.

“Despite its position as an ally of the U.S., little is known about Saudi culture and its citizens for many in our nation,” says AANM Director and curator of Epicenter X, Devon Akmon. Ithra Director, Tareq Alghamdi, continues: “We are pleased to provide an opportunity for Saudi artists to showcase their work in the Arab American National Museum. This exhibition fosters cross cultural dialogue, and offers the chance for a wider audience to engage with the diversity within Saudi art.”

A variety of works in diverse mediums by both established and emerging artists are being featured in the exhibition. Highlights include photographs by current AANM resident artist, Ayman Yossri Daydban; Qamar Abdulmalik’s Asylum of Dreams installation; Marwah Al Mugait’s latest video installation We Were; Abdullah Al Othman’s multi-channel video installation The Experiment, from the No-touch Torture Series; and design by Yusef Alahmad. Also featured in Epicenter X are two large scale contemporary Qut murals (first shown in the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2015) created in the age-old traditional style of house-painting by skilled female artisans from Southwestern Saudi Arabia.

Participating Artists: Qamar Abdelmalik, Yusef Alahmad & Josh Higgins, Musaed Alhulis, Marwah Al Mugait, Arwa Al Neami, Ahmad Angawi, Amr Alngmah, Abdullah Al-Othman, Nasser Al Salem, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Abdulnasser Gharem, Ajlan Gharem, Fatimah Hassan, Ahmed Mater, Mawadah Muhtasib, Nugamshi, Shaweesh,

Qut Mural Artists: Safia Ahmed, Salehah Yahay Alalmaiy, Amira Al-Almai, Nala Ali, Salha Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Salehah Abdulzeaz Alraqde, Zaina Al-Shahrani, Jamelah Ali Alsoghayer, Arwa Mohammed Alzehr, Halimah Moshabab Assiry, Sharifa Ayed, Fawzeiyah Mohammed Barzyq, Fatimah Hassan, Sharifah Mohammed Mahdi, Jameelah Mater, Jewaher Mater, Reem Mater, Nawarah Abdolrahman Moghawi, Ohud Ebraheam Moghawi, Fatima Yahya Fatemah Faya Yaqub, Zohrah Faya Yaqub

Epicenter X marks the sixth stop on a multi-city Saudi artist’s tour of the U.S., and is supported by Ithra, and coordinated by CULTURUNNERS. The tour, which launched in 2016 at the Station Museum in Houston, Texas before traveling to the Gonzo Gallery in Aspen, CO; Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, CA, Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), CA; aims to generate people-to-people dialogue and better understanding between nations. Following a run at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, the tour will continue to Salt Lake City, Memphis, Washington D.C. and New York.

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