Arab, Middle Eastern & Muslim Artists Series
Art2Action, in partnership with the University of South Florida (USF), was one of 6 grantees in the nation awarded a “Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement” grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) in its inaugural round (2014-16). Our “Building Bridges” program introduces students, partners and audiences to the great diversity of Muslim and Arab identities, cultures and aesthetics, by presenting a series of (mostly) women performers and artists in multiple disciplines, over a two-year period. Our title, THIS Bridge: Arab, Middle Eastern & Muslim Artists, references seminal writings in women of color feminism (This Bridge Called My Back and later This Bridge We Call Home, as well as Colonize THIS! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism), and locates the self-representation of contemporary Arab and Muslim women artists within that historical discourse. Guest artists in the presenting series each spend a full week in Tampa, on campus and in the community. Artist residencies include performances, film screenings, exhibits, class visits and workshops, Festival appearances, facilitated dialogues, academic lectures and panels to engage students across an array of departments, institutes, and student associations.
Lebanese American theatre artist, Andrea Assaf, serves as Artist-in-Residence and guest faculty with the USF School of Theatre & Dance, and lead curator for the program. For the presenting series, Art2Action co-curates a series of residencies with artists who demonstrate artistic excellence across a variety of aesthetics and disciplines. The goals of this series are to educate, provoke, surprise, move, and inspire. The inclusion of artists with both traditional and complex identities works to dispel stereotypes, counter mainstream media images and Arab-Muslim conflation, and stimulate transformation of attitudes, views and relationships across communities. In alignment with Art2Action’s mission, artistic presentations are always followed by opportunities for academic discourse and intra-community dialogue about gender, including contemporary Arab and Muslim feminisms, identity, and U.S. policy.
Partnering departments and units have included: The School of Theatre and Dance, Anthropology, Communications, English, Government & International Affairs, The Humanities Institute, The Institute on Black Life, Women’s & Gender Studies, World Languages Arabic classes, The School of Art & Art History, The School of Music, The Institute for Research in Art/Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), and USF World’s Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies. Collaborating student associations include the Arab Cultural Association (ACA), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and many more. Community partners include the Arab American Community Center (AACC), which produces annual Arab Festivals in Tampa and Orlando.
Inside Arts: Building Bridges Together (APAP Preconference 2014 digital edition), with cover featuring Art2Action artist Aida Shahghesemi in Eleven Reflections on September at USF:
Creative Loafing: “The Laugh Track – Who’s Bringing the Funny” (including Negin Farsad, by Michael Murillo, August 27, 2014)
Creative Loafing: “World-renowned muralist Aya Tarek tags USF” (by Caitlin Albritton, September 30, 2015) http://cltampa.com/artbreaker/archives/2015/09/30/world-renowned-muralist-aya-tarek-tags-usf#.VoR341LBtlU
Creative Loafing Theatre Preview: 9 Parts of Desire at USF (by Julie Garisto, 11/10/15) http://cltampa.com/artbreaker/archives/2015/11/10/theater-preview-9-parts-of-desire-at-usf#.VoRkhlLBtlW
The Oracle: “9 Parts of Desire tackles reality of war” (by Breanne Williams, 11/11/15) http://www.usforacle.com/news/view.php/1014398/9-Parts-of-Desire-tackles-reality-of-war
The Tampa Tribune: “Play Promotes Cultural Diplomacy in a Time of Conflict” (by Brad Stager, November 4, 2015)