Today I spent the morning preparing for my exhibit reception and artist talk at Daytona State College. These are always my favorite part of the exhibition experience: speaking with the guests, hearing their feedback, opening a dialogue and answering questions about difficult topics. It is nerve-racking, but oh-so-valuable!
The curator asked me a few weeks ago to prepare a presentation about the series; an explanation about its history and development. "No problem!" I thought. I had given a similar presentation to students at the University of Florida in 2016:
and before that to students at New College (here is a picture of us working on a collaborative art project, which we created after the presentation...please ignore the braces!).
So I expected that I could update the presentation pretty quickly with current information. The presentation centers around the concept of dehumanization: what it is, why it happens, when it is used as a political tool, and how I am using my series to reclaim the narrative about Muslim women and counter the trend of dehumanization of Muslims. If you're curious, click here for an interesting article about the subject.
As I was updating my presentation, however, I found the recent evidence of dehumanization and "othering" of Muslims to be overwhelming. In the past, I noticed that the offenses against Muslims (and people who were presumed to be Muslim) were largely attacks from a small segment of society. In those cases one could argue that the hateful rhetoric and actions were limited to a few people "on the right."
Oh, how times have changed!
In just two years the source of the rhetoric has shifted from the far right, to front and center. It is coming straight from the top, from the most powerful position in the world, and is spreading like a plague.
Now, instead of just offensive cartoons and hateful language, Muslims are facing attacks on our civil liberties. Legalized discrimination based upon religion, through the travel ban. The potential for a Muslim registry. Federal monitoring of houses of worship. What ever happened to freedom of religion?
More on the reception and what we discussed in the next post.