The Muslim Students Association hosted an Art Show on November 28 in the Atrium Lounge.
The Muslim Student Association members are close, constantly chatting and moving around each other. The members set up art pieces in the Atrium Lounge that celebrate personal expression, cultural connections, and political stances. A large banner hangs overhead, created by Raritan Valley and Rutgers Alumni Zamar Khan. This banner symbolizes the personal story of his own journey to become a citizen after immigrating in 2001- waiting 16 years to gain full citizenship. Though in fact it does not just represent his own thoughts and feelings of being seen as another, and finding his community, it represents a unity among the club and his family.
The MSA club president Abdul Rehman introduces himself to any newcomers, thanking them for coming, and points out to the sign in sheet on the table beyond him.
“We've been planning this event for a couple weeks,” He explains over the music “I didn't know any artists out there until we started to receive all this art, but I’m glad everyone came together to help.” While he gave a tour of the pieces “It couldn't be any better than this, even if they couldn't draw they brought in symbols or decorations of their culture, it's a very open event. We’re an organization that is very open and really brings people together. ”
Girls walk around in bright colors with Hijabs and scarves complementing their outfits, holding submitted paintings while easels and props are placed accordingly. Dabbling in quick jokes, as laughter rings out into the halls, the environment turns lively and exciting. Students hang around the outskirts, watching as scarves are draped over white boards and prayer mats and spread out on tables, alongside the Maher Zain playing through the speakers.
The Muslim Student Association club, known as MSA for short is a student organization at RVCC. MSA is a social group for the Muslim and non-Muslim students on campus consisting of students of all origins, nationalities, and cultures, serving the virtue of brotherhood and sisterhood. Open and genuinely friendly, the MSA hopes to gain not just friendship, but education to dispel stigma and cultivate understanding at RVCC.
The pieces ranged from uplifting the community to highlighting political stances on freedom, each showing vivid colors as students walked between the festivities. A piece by long-time member Patricia Harris, A multimedia painting displaying photographed pictures of roses around the bottom, a washi tape that bordered the right side, and a split self-portrait between black and white- a representation of her mixed heritage sits below the banner.
“My issue as a mixed person was finding a place to fit in” She says “because people usually say ‘oh well you're not “that” enough’ or being not like them enough. So people either reject you or accept you, it's always been hard to find a place to fit in, but MSA wasn't about the race of the person. It was always about the religion, and that was one thing that I loved.”
Another piece was painted by the club advisor, Kiswah Khan, which expresses her personal feeling of how peace is something that should be a part of all our lives. The piece itself has a multicolored background, of mostly greens, oranges, and yellows, while having the word Peace translated into several languages spoken on campus. She points out how broad all the multicultural clubs are on campus. Which represents students who come from separate regions, and wanted to highlight the way that these languages interconnect “in peace or love or faith, it impacts a lot.”
Later in the event MSA members made a semicircle in front of the stage, presenting their pieces that they had submitted. Each member would then stand and explain their submissions to the audience that had gathered.
One of the more recent members, nicknamed JP, went to high school with Abdul and reached out to him to learn about the culture- by wanting to get to know people who practice Islam and connecting with them. JP stood in front of the stage to show off a piece by his brother, not exactly related but loved just the same. A painting of Husain Abdullah- the moment during a Monday Night Football game on September 29, 2014 against the New England Patriots. When he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, he then slid to his knees, bowing down and giving praise in Islamic salutation. He then received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that was later rescinded, due to this.
“I am a new member of the MSA and I felt, since I have a deep passion for football, that this was a way I could contribute to the show today.” JP says to the room “And I am very that everyone has accepted me and I can't wait to learn more.” applause following him as he walks back into the audience.
Members came up one by one, posing or holding their submitted items, and explained the cultural significance to the crowd. Some, though shy were happy to talk about these personal items- while others held up their piece and others jumped in with their knowledge and experiences seeing the piece growing up or at their homes. The moment Henna- the temporary body art that is based in the Arabian Peninsula and the countries surrounding it, was mentioned many of the members rolled up their sleeves at the same time. Electing a laugh from everyone in the room.
A pakistani-indian dish named Biryani was heated up and dished out to everyone who appeared, loud talking taking over the room, as the art show turned quickly into a big get together. As MSA members sat back and really enjoyed the event they had worked hard for, the environment turned to the best thing a college student could hope for: a party.
Edited by Jordan Brozas