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New exhibit in Bay Ridge explores culture and immigration through art

BAY RIDGE — A new exhibit exploring how perceptions of culture can change through immigration, and how that experience can influence artistic choices, is poised to open in Bay Ridge.

Overall, the show, “Artifacts of Place,” opening Nov. 8 and running through Dec. 15, and put together by Stand4 Gallery and Community Art Center, is a celebration of culture, differences and the arbitrariness of it all.

The Stand Project preceded Stand4 Community Center as a large scale art curation project conceived by Artistic Director Jeannine Bardo in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights and founded in 2017.

“Artifacts of Place” showcases work by women artists from the Middle East, North Africa and the U.S. They were selected not only because their work deals with cultural issues, but also because Bay Ridge has one of the most diverse populations of immigrants of Middle Eastern descent in the country.

The curator of the exhibit is Isabelle Garbani, who also is an artist in her own right and lives in Bay Ridge. “I am also an immigrant to the U.S., and a U.S. citizen since 2006,” Garbani told this paper.

“I feel that art can become a bridge between people and culture, and let us overcome our fears about the unknown. Culture is in a way, arbitrary. We do not choose where we are born, so what we believe — in terms of social sets of rules and etiquette — is really acquired by chance. We need to stay open to other cultural values, and learn from each other whenever possible,” added Garbani.

Artists exhibiting their work include Reem Bassous, Arghavan Khosravi, Helen Zughaib, Mary Tuma, Armita Raafat, Dalia Baassiri, Joyce Dallal and Daiffa Dessiné who celebrate, evaluate and use their cultural heritage in their visual language, and examine how place and experience can shape cultural identity.

“It’s a great time for women from the Middle East to be represented in a show that will have viewers question notions and preconceptions of the Middle East,” Bassous told this paper. “After all, the role of art is to confront and educate.”

Zughaib hopes her work will serve to open further dialogue about the troubles in the Middle East. “As an Arab American, I hope through my work to encourage dialogue and bring understanding and acceptance between the people of the Arab world and the United States, especially since 9/11, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the more recent revolutions and crises in the Arab world, resulting from the Arab Spring that began in late 2010, leading to the civil war in Syria and the massive displacement of people seeking refuge in Europe, the Middle East and America.”

The opening reception is Nov. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Stand4, 414 78th St. Additional programming such as a recipe exchange, artist presentations and film screenings are also planned.

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