An art installation

“unfurled”

Nov. 19- Dec. 15

Ann-Marie Stillion, artist
This is a public art installation funded by Arts in Parks, a Seattle Park District initiative.
Please join us in celebrating the first public art project in Seattle celebrating the life and culture of our Muslim community.

The Program will begin at 1:30 pm on Saturday, November 19 for talks, prayers, and readings.

 

Let our collaboration be a sign to the world that in Seattle we are united as Americans across all communities.

 

Look forward to seeing you all.

 

Thanks for all the time and effort everyone has put into this day.

 

Location: Corner of 125th and Lake City Way NE
in heart of  Lake City

The project

The project goal of the installation you see in the park is to open doors to understanding and appreciation of Muslim women in Seattle. I hope my project can be part of ongoing work which helps Muslims and non-Muslims appreciate one another productively and warmly.

When I moved to Lake City from Green Lake two years ago, I noticed many women in hijab headscarves and felt there was critical need for understanding of the important culturally rich Muslim community which hails from many countries throughout the world.

The quotes on the sculptures come from a potluck dinner discussion Ann-Marie Stillion organized between 10 Muslim women and 10 non-Muslims. It was held at Idriss Mosque at North Seattle in August, 2016. Everyone brought their favorite dish and we talked for three hours about Islam, Muslim culture, the hijab, America and the life of women in the world.

Much gratitude to the North Seattle Family Center who provided guidance and introductions to support the project. Special thanks to the Muslim sisters who shared their life experience and insight. I appreciate the support we received from the Idriss Mosque. Also, thanks to the non-Muslims who came with open minds to share this experience.

One Muslim woman, Ibtesam Elmadani, gave many hours of her time. A leader in the community, she is notable because she stepped forward the day after 911 to work toward helping the community heal and has never stopped to this day.

Also deep appreciation to the many hours that staff at the City of Seattle Parks Department and the Office of Arts and Culture provided to make this possible.


Here are so, some of the questions and the answers from our August dinner:

1. If you were not born in America, tell us about the country you came from:
‏I was born in Libya, my home country in North Africa. It is a Muslim country mainly populated by Arabs and Islam is the main religion. The people there have this great sense of hospitality and generosity, the nature of giving. The dessert that I brought today has the main ingredients of flour, honey and butter.
‏2.  As a non-Muslim, what inspires you about the Muslim community?
‏What you have to put up with! I just admire your perseverance and incredible hospitality.
3. Why do Muslims pray five times a day?
‏Muslims believe that the true purpose of their lives is to worship God. Everything that we do is to appreciate and thank him. For example, we wake up before the sun rises for our first prayer to thank him for all the blessings we have been given. Ultimately, we pray to have a deep connection with him all the time so he can guide us through our daily lives.
4. What is the hijab from a non-Muslim point of view?
‏Before tonight I just thought it was something that somebody wore. What does it all mean? It is an outward representation of something that is felt very inwardly…to learn tonight that it is a choice, getting closer to your faith…it is lovely to discover what it is about.
5. What does a mosque mean to you from a Muslim point of view?
‏I used to say that I feel at home at concerts but now I say it is at a mosque. A mosque is a place I can call home. From a Muslim point of view, a mosque is not only a place of worship but a place that brings the community together to have social events that deal with different challenges within the community.
6.  What is the most common question you get from non-Muslims?
‏Are you Muslim? Why are you wearing the hijab? Where you are from? A long time ago, a lady asked me if there was a specific rule as to why I had to wear a scarf. And I thought it was very random timing as we were in the mall, and we ended up having a long conversation.
7. Where do you feel most safe in the world?
‏Safety is a broad term, but I think I feel most safe when I am praying especially if I am at the mosque.
8. On understanding Muslims as a non-Muslim:
‏My mother felt it was very important to try to understand people who were not like me. That was a very important value. From the time I was very small I understood that it wasn’t ok to laugh at people who weren’t like me. I really find it quite shocking that some in America think it is ok now to bully others.
9. Do you believe that one day we will all learn to love each other and come together?
‏Yes, I do. I believe that we will reach a time where we will all learn to love each other and come together. It won’t be easy, but it will require gaining a great deal of knowledge, exposure and appreciation on different cultures and religions.
10. On learning about the hijab as a non-Muslim:
‏Today, when I was trying to put on a scarf, I realized how much fun it was.
11. What inspires you in the non-Muslim community?
‏I think you are gifted in this country because you see a lot of diversity. You see a lot of religions and deal with them in your daily life. And then you find how much you are human here. I love this country for that.
12. On being a Muslim in America:
‏I would like to say something about coming to America. I have been here about 25 years. When you come here, you learn about being a Muslim. You are truly alone as you feel far away from family members back home. But you come here and find people from so many different countries, from all over the world and then you realize it’s not just about my people, it’s about people from all over the world.
13. On wearing the hijab:
‏It is important to clarify that the term ‘hijab’ doesn’t solely include the scarf we wear on our heads. It extends to all aspects of our lives including our attire. Hijab ultimately embodies modesty which also includes modest behavior and speech. Contrary to popular belief, the characteristics of exhibiting modesty and upholding morals in Islam are a command for men as well.
14. On being a Muslim:
‏Everything we do is an act of worship for us. As a Muslim, as a human being if you see someone who needs help, you lend a hand. If I can be part of something bigger then why not, just taking on that opportunity is a feeling I love at the end of the day.
15. What is the most important thing that non-Muslims could learn about Muslims that would make your life easier?
‏I wish that non-Muslims would educate themselves about Islam and our culture and be careful about their sources since the media portrays us in such a bad way. Muslims are trying their best to show non-Muslims that we are not terrorists and that our religion promotes peace.

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