The Oklahoma chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, known by the acronym CAIR, sponsored a “Art in the Heartland” art show last week at the Wanda Bass Atrium at Oklahoma City University. The show displayed the work of young Muslim artists from the Oklahoma City area.
The artists included Ali Soltani, an OCU music major who plays the violin, viola and oud. Soltani explained that his interest in music was developed when he was a student at Edmond North High School and that the music director of that institution, Peter Marcus, encouraged him to explore both western and eastern music to develop his style.
Layan Salous is a photographer whose pictures have captured a variety of landscapes and individuals in Oklahoma. They include images of family members smiling at one another and small children who appear to be beaming at the world. Next to her photos was a sign that read “When I admire the wonders of sunset my soul expands in the worship of the creator.” Salous begin working in photography when she was 11 years old when her father introduced her to that art form.
Usma Muzaffar Saleema is a painter and calligrapher. She has recently painted a mural for the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City that include an image of the Lake Hefner lighthouse. Saleema’s exhibit also included several ceramic figures in pastel colors.
Tehmina Cheema is a calligrapher who said her art is inspired in large part by her religious faith. Her work features Arabic script in black on a brightly colored backdrops. Cheema is currently teaching art at Mercy School in Edmond.
Sarah Firdaous is a Stillwater resident who is both a photographer and a sculptor and is enrolled in a master’s degree program at Oklahoma State University. She believes that photography can capture important moments in peoples lives and also convey some of the beauty of the world. Her work includes pictures of weddings and family gatherings.
Nadia Martinez is a photographer from Norman who favors portrait photos, and her exhibit featured images of individuals and also rural scenes. Since she prefers using natural light for her pictures, her work is mostly done outdoors, and include images of people and places from the Oklahoma City-Norman area.
Salwa Elyazgi is a painter whose work includes silhouettes and paintings of people. She believes that when people view silhouettes they are less likely to judge the individual who is the subject of the painting. Elyazgi said that in her paintings she seeks to show the diversity of the world, and the right of individuals to be who they really are.
Adam Soltani, who is the executive director of CAIR Oklahoma, thanked the guests for attending the show, and also thanked the artists who participated in the event.
WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is a retired Oklahoma City attorney.