Google “Muslim Woman.”
“If you look at the images, you see one thing over and over again essentially,” said Saba Barnard. “It is not representative of this huge and diverse population. I felt really motivated to make art that is part of this dialogue.”
Barnard’s “Rebel,” an acrylic painting with gold leaf and rhinestones portraying a young Muslim woman wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim head scarf, a tunic with the word Rebel emblazoned across it, and leopard skin tights, is one of 38 portraits on exhibit in “Face-to-Face,” at the Durham Art Guild, 120 Morris St., through May 10. There is a reception this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Barnard, who is Muslim and whose parents emigrated from Pakistan, began painting seriously in 2009. “When I started, it was not about making a message, a statement. As time has gone on, it has become more important to do this,” Barnard said. She found that when a group of people are not properly represented in society by their culture, there are repercussions. “Not only in the way that the groups begin to be treated but also in the way that people begin to feel about themselves.”
In 2011, Barnard started a series “Technicolor Muslimah. “I painted some of my friends who are also Muslim, and they contributed short statements to accompany the paintings,” she said. “It was like I could suddenly talk about and communicate some of these things that are important to me without making it just about me.”
“Rebel” is part of a more recent series, “An-Noor” or “The Light” “When all of the pieces in this collection are shown together, you get a sense that every Muslim is not the same,” said Barnard, who paints from photographs she has taken. She and the subject of “Rebel” spent three hours talking before Barnard began shooting. “I love the way she represented herself. She showed up in the outfit in the painting. When she decided to wear the hijab, it was a very deliberate and individual decision. Her mother and her sister do not wear it. She wanted people to know she is a Muslim.”
The magnificent Beverly McIver juried the show, choosing from 66 submitted pieces, and on Tuesday April 8, 7-8 p.m., McIver, who is the SunTrust Endowed Chair Professor of Art at NCCU, will give a talk. She will announce awards including the People’s Choice award. There are ballots in the gallery and viewers can vote for their favorite piece.
By coincidence, another Muslim woman and friend of Barnard’s, Nureena Faruqi, had two photographs chosen for the exhibit. “It is really cool to see another woman from a similar background represented in the show,” Barnard said. “You get multiple perspectives.”
“It is an absolutely beautiful thing to see the variety in this exhibit,” said Katie Seiz, gallery director of the Durham Art Guild. “What I had hoped for with this theme is that these artists and their pieces would open up windows into their worlds or other people’s worlds.”
A slice of Emily Anderson’s world is captured in her “Happy Days.” This flawless portrait shows Anderson on her side in bed, eyes agape, staring straight on at the viewer. Her husband, Keith lies behind her, peacefully sleeping. Anderson’s technique is so fine that one can hear her husband’s calm breathing, and the thump, thump, thump of Anderson’s heart.
The genesis of “Happy Days” came from Anderson’s idea of waking up in the middle of the night from having a dream about her past. “I thought, wow, Keith will never understand that part of me,” Anderson said. “But as time went on, and I started to work on the piece, it started to represent waking up in the middle of the night and thinking about anything and how isolating that can be. Your partner is there, but they will never truly understand what is going on in your head. This is about being stuck in the confines of your own mind in the middle of the night and the demons that can come out.”
Other artists in the show are Peter Anderson, Lisa Bartell, Freeman Beard, Brenda Behr, Edie Cohn, Janet Coleman, Amanda Dicken, John Gallagher, Stan Gilliam, Helen Griffin, Chrystal Hardt, Warren Hicks, Linda Ide , Susan Jones, Gregg Kemp, Christin Kleinstreuer, Elizabeth Lee, Frank Myers, Annie Nashold, Chris Ogden, Raheem Pounds, Eric Raddatz, Jennifer Schmitt, Judy Smith, Steven Sorin, Matt Tomko, Caroline Tripp, and Kimberly Wheaton.
The theme for Face-to-Face grew out of a potluck that Seiz organized at the DAG last fall to bring together guild and community artists. The mood at the feast was electrifying. “I wanted to do another potluck mixer during the exhibit so we are hosting one April 29, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is a dish or drink to share. Bring your own utensils, and no red wine,” Seiz said. “We have carpets.”