BY ASHA MAHADEVAN
LaGuardia Community College is hosting the photography exhibit “Faces of Islam” at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center from Nov. 13. The exhibit features more than 30 photographs of Muslims associated with the college: students, administrators, and their families and friends. The photographers took the images either for a class project or specifically for the exhibit.
The exhibit is part of “Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity,” a yearlong program of theater, dance, art exhibitions and public forums tailored toward spreading awareness and understanding about Islam in post-9/11 America. During the launch of the program in September, the center’s managing director Steven Hitt said that “Beyond Sacred” is “an exploration of Muslim identity through the lens of music, theater and dance that will open a dialogue among Muslim and non-Muslim communities, and will challenge the assumptions of group identity.”
The programming has five themes, titled “Beyond Sacred,” “Gender Sacred,” “Identity Sacred,” “Performing Sacred,” and “Beyond – Beyond Sacred.” Theatrical performances, music, dance, panel discussions and community forums will focus on each of these themes. Some of the highlights include a dance festival called “Leap of Faith,” a student production of the play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” and a Berber Film Festival presented by the Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity.
While the line-up is impressive, the organizers are determined that the programming will neither encourage nor insult Islam.