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