Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Micah Ariel James, Guest Opinion, Press Citizen

The world, I think we can agree, is a complicated place. Unfortunately, it seems much of our current dialogue about important issues seeks to minimize those complications, seeking instead to divide us with overly simple dichotomies. We’re facing a moment where we are called to resist the dangerous notion of “us vs. them” — where “them” is some groups that get marginalized even while being undeniably part of “us.”

One such marginalized group at this fraught moment is the Muslim community. All of us at Hancher are delighted to have the opportunity to undermine the “us/them” dichotomy via our Embracing Complexity project. Thanks to a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals’ Building Bridges: Arts, Culture, and Identity program, we are presenting a series of programs and performances focusing on contemporary Islamic cultures and Muslim identities.

Embracing Complexity, for which I serve as project director in my role as Hancher’s education manager, is a multidisciplinary and collaborative project that is bringing artists to the University of Iowa campus and the broader community over the next two years. Artists in residence will work with partners on and off campus on a broad range of activities including performances, classes, exhibits, discussions, and lectures. The project will also document and explore the experiences of Muslims in Eastern Iowa through sharing of local stories and oral histories.