‘Halal Metropolis’: U-M exhibition examines diversity, narratives of Detroit’s Muslim community

June 30, 2021
Contact: Sydney Hawkins sydhawk@umich.edu

A new exhibition at the University of Michigan Stamps Gallery explores the facts, fic­tions and imag­i­nar­ies of the Mus­lim populations in Detroit and South­east Michi­gan as viewed through his­tor­i­cal research, doc­u­men­ta­tion of cur­rent con­di­tions and explo­rations of future desires.

Halal Metropolis” is on view until July 20, and was created and curated by artist Osman Khan, an associate professor at U-M’s Stamps School of Art & Design; photographer Razi Jafri, a graduate student at Stamps; and Sally How­ell, associate professor of history and director of the Center for Arab American Studies at UM-Dearborn.

According to the creators, “Halal Metrop­o­lis” alludes to the estab­lished and grow­ing Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion in Detroit and its metro area—one of the largest and most diverse Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions in the U.S.—whose vis­i­bil­ity is both pro­nounced and extremely present in the city, yet whose nar­ra­tive seems unusu­ally silent in the larger Detroit story.

“This is part of a series of exhibitions we’ve presented in recent years that looks at the visibility, and in some sense, the invisibility of the Muslim population in our state,” said Khan, whose work is also on view as part of the show. “They’re very visible, but in the Detroit narrative, they’re sort of lost.”

The exhi­bi­tion blends archival mate­ri­als, social and polit­i­cal arti­facts, pho­tog­ra­phy and art to explore the con­gru­ent and con­tra­dict­ing ideas, aes­thet­ics and cul­tures work­ing to make the Halal Metrop­o­lis both a real and imag­i­nary entity.

Halal Metropolis is on view at the Stamps Gallery until July 17.

Halal Metropolis is on view at the Stamps Gallery until July 17. Image courtesy: Stamps School of Art & Design

“Often stories about Muslims in America in general are not very nuanced. They’re presented as monolithic or single minded,” Jafri said. “What we want people to really take away from this exhibition is an understanding of how diverse, multiethnic and multicultural we are—and we also want to highlight how Muslims are inextricable from the cultural fabric and of American history.”

The exhibition features works by Amna Asghar, Qais Assali, BGIRL MAMA, Nour Ball­out, Adnan Charara, Kecia Escoe, Parisa Ghaderi, Anthony Keith Giannini, Razi Jafri, Osman Khan, Maamoul Press, Endi Poskovic, Haleem ​”Stringz” Rasul and Reem Taki.

Halal Metropolis” is pre­sented in part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­sity of Michigan-Dearborn’s Cen­ter for Arab Amer­i­can Stud­ies, with sup­port from the Knight Foun­da­tion, Doris Duke Foun­da­tion, Andy Warhol Foun­da­tion for the Visual Arts, El-Hibri Foun­da­tion, Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion of SE Michi­gan and Michi­gan Human­i­ties Council.

The Stamps Gallery, operated by the U-M Stamps School of Art & Design, is located at 201 S. Division St. in Ann Arbor. The gallery is free and open to the public, but is currently open by appointment only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with advance registration.