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We Got Here from There: Immigration Stories Presented by JAMMARTT( Jews and Muslims Making Art Together)

Sarah Berry, Curator, Bodzin Art Gallery on Friday, March 25, 2022

We Got Here from There: Immigration Stories
Presented by JAMMARTT( Jews and Muslims Making Art Together)
Open through April 25 at the Bodzin Art Gallery

JAMMARTT, which stands for Jews and Muslims Making Art Together, is a group of Jews and Muslims who got together in 2008 with the purpose of creating art and in so doing to get to know and understand each other’s beliefs and values. In the process and without expecting it, they became friends. At first, they focused on learning about “the other” and soon discovered there were more commonalties than differences.

Conversations about We Got Here from There: Immigration Stories began between the J’s curator, Sarah Berry, and JAMMARTT’s contact with the J, artist Betsy Nahum Miller, in 2018. “The world has changed plenty since then, and sharing this art continues to be timely and meaningful. We are so pleased to be showing this artwork at the J,” says Sarah. The exhibit includes painting, fiber art, ceramic, photography, and printmaking by eleven artists. “The artists have successfully captivated us with their reflections on the complexities of immigration. The nostalgia, hope, joy, and fear part of so many stories are present in this show,” Sarah shares.

We Got Here from There: Immigration Stories represents the journeys of this group of artists, and conveys the universal tale of each person who picked up and left all that was familiar to create a better life for themselves, their families, and future generations.

IMAGE: F-8/3, mixed media by Lubna Zahid

Some of the artists in this show are immigrants, like Lubna Zahid. Together with her husband, and two young boys, she migrated to the United States from Pakistan due to political circumstances in 2000. “This is a personal piece that depicts the map of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capitol, which I have been unable to return to since we left.” Shares the artist. “The longing and yearning to return is represented by the birds converging to the area where I used to live. The memory filled streets of Islamabad are highlighted with gold leaf, and the accompanying text is a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, which he penned while in exile himself.”

IMAGE: Leaving Salonica (Grandma Dora), acrylic on canvas by Betsy Nahum-Miller

Other artists in this show reflect on and attempt to connect with their family’s journey from their ancestral home, going back several generations, as the exhibit’s organizer, Betsy Nahum-Miller has done. The two paintings in the exhibit tell the stories of her grandmothers, Dora and Helen, who immigrated from Salonica and Russia, respectively.  For Leaving Salonica (Grandma Dora), the artist represented the Greek city as she pictured it at the time of her grandmother’s departure. “The painting represents my interpretation of my grandmother at 17, reluctantly leaving her family and a city that was home for a better life in America.” In Child’s-Eye View of Steerage (Grandma Helen), Betsy relied on her family’s retelling of her grandmother leaving Russia for inspiration. “I created what I imagined as my 10-year-old grandmother’s view of the ship, feeling queasy and a bit frightened about what awaits. In painting this, I put myself there with her and felt that I understood her a little bit more.”

IMAGE: Grandma Rose’s Afghan, photo collage by Larry Levine

“My father Alexander Levine (Ela Lisniewski) came from Konela, near Kiev,” shares artist Larry Levine. “My mother was born in Hartford, Connecticut. I never knew my grandparents, but I learned about them through family stories and documents.” His artwork features copies of these documents with a colorful crochet background.  “Grandma Rose’s Afghan represents the connection from my family’s roots in Ukraine, Russia and Palestine to Connecticut.”

Above all, this collective art exhibition is meant to show the powerful convergence of different faiths and cultures through friendship, community, creativity, and hope.

Participating Artists

Ruth Gainer
Amna Ibrahim
Judy Jonas
Larry Levine
Bano Makhdoom
Betsy Nahum-Miller
Gale Pressman
Shela Qamer
Ruby Sharif
Shirley Waxman
Lubna Zahid


Many of the artworks in this exhibit are for sale, support local artists, while supporting fine arts at the Pozez JCC. A portion of all proceeds help us continue our mission to support local art in Northern Virginia and its environs. Purchases can be made at the Guest Services Desk.

Get to know the JAMMARTT group!
An Exodus Story and a Creative Journey (Virtual)

Sunday, April 3, 4pm-5:15pm on Zoom

Co-Sponsored by Congregation Adat Reyim Adult Learning

Meet the artists of JAMMARTT (Jews and Muslims Making Art Together) who will share the journey of their locally based group, which formed nearly fourteen years ago.  One of the founding members, Sabir Rahman, will give a special presentation about his and his family's exodus story... their journey from India to Pakistan after the partition in 1947.

Fee: Complimentary (however, you must register for this program)
To register, click here. 
 https://thej-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0kfuuhqzMjHdG2oqrFDNl31iBB8uJ5sVqS

 

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