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Student work project viewing

Putting a Face on Islam, a community-based art-integration project, connects AP world history students in Fayetteville to Muslims in our community

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A group of Putting a Face on Islam projects.

A group of Putting a Face on Islam projects.

Lauren Vernon

Lauren Vernon

A group of Putting a Face on Islam projects.

Annabelle Yerby, Reporter

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Last fall, AP world history students from Fayetteville High School interviewed and photographed members of the Muslim community in NW Arkansas.  The aim was for students to better understand contemporary Muslims as a way to deepen and contextualize their study of Islam throughout world history.  Students produced framed visual and written “portraits” of their interviewees, along with artist statements to communicate the historical context,  purpose, and the significance of their artwork in this heated political era.  Many of the artworks’ subjects were volunteers from the University of Arkansas’ International Students and Scholars community.

The Putting a Face on Islam project was intended to facilitate personal engagement between FHS students in Dr. Grisso’s AP world history classes and Muslim community members, with the additional hope that the artworks’ exhibition would inspire a deeper dialogue among those in the greater NWA community.  In AP world history, students learn about Islam and the religion’s impact and contributions to humankind.  The historical perspective of Islam contradicts negative stereotypes perpetrated of Islamic terrorists in media.  Though Muhammad forbad graven images of himself, the process of students putting a face on schoolmates, friends, neighbors, U of A scholars and students, who are Muslim or Arabic, served as a useful academic exploration to counteract hearsay and fear-based rhetoric with real lived experiences and deeper and more thoughtful understanding of the “other.”

More information on the project can be found on their Facebook page.  The event is on Thursday, January 11 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Community Creative Center at 505 W Spring St, Fayetteville, AR

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