A small mezzanine-level art exhibition inside the ArtLA space may not seem like much space to the casual eye, but for a group of 16 young artists, the upstairs corner at the end of the elongated exhibition hall was all the area they needed to speak their minds through socially conscious art.
Zanbeel Art presented the Youth Art Express (YAE) at the ArtLA space at Bergamot Station (2525 Michigan Avenue), an exhibition dedicated to breaking down cultural barriers.
The works of 17 emerging artists, mostly South Asian, were on display during the six-day exhibition from Dec. 1 to 6.
Entitled “Pro-vo-ca-re,” meaning “call forth” or “challenge” in Latin, the exhibition aimed to use art to both “nurture personal growth … provoke thought … and evoke curiosity” to help differing cultures gain a greater understanding of each other.
“Youth Art Express breaks down barriers by fostering an understanding between the growing cultures of today,” the exhibit’s curators said. “We see how our youth explore and investigate environmental, political, religious, social, personal, and global issues. We nurture confidence and encourage a thirst for knowledge among our youth, planting seeds of tolerance for future generations.”
With paintings and photographs on display representing the works of 17 South Asians and Americans ranging from late teens to young adults, the YAE exhibit featured a total of 30 pieces. Each of the pieces told a story of biculturalism.
For example, one artist featured a tapestry of photographs of popular Pakistani pop singer Noor Jehan covered by a silhouette image of Marilyn Monroe’s face. The piece seemed inspired by the works of Andy Warhol.
There was also a search for beauty amidst chaos, the quest to find truth in the ordinary, and a wide range of moods, fleeting moments, and constant measures that create a sense of self.
The participating artists were Farah Ahed, Sadaf Ahmed, Asna Habib, Sana Haroon, Khalid Hussein, Kamal Khan, Mona Khan, Dario Mellado, Irfan Mirza, Yousra Qadir, Adam Rasheed, Nadia Rawjee, Kite Sparrow, Sara Suleman, Yasmine Suleiman, and Arezo Yassai.
Also participating in the exhibit was Mehnaz Sahibzada, who gave a poetry reading at the Dec. 1 opening.
The exhibit is also part of Zanbeel Art’s educational outreach program, South Asian Art & Literacy for Youth (SAALY), which, according to the YAE curators, facilitates a creative exchange between elementary students in Los Angeles with their counterparts in Karachi, Pakistan.
Presently, Zanbeel and SAALY are working with fifth graders at 112th Street Elementary School in Watts. In its second year there, the program connects 60 students in Karachi and Los Angeles, each of them exchanging handmade arts and crafts. In Watts, students learn about South Asian culture, foods, geography, and language.
Zanbeel Art director and co-founder Fatima Sultan and curator Sadaf Ahmed put the exhibit together to promote the organization’s mission of breaking down cultural barriers and promoting cross-cultural interaction.
Providing an avenue for established, emerging, and student contemporary artists from South Asia and the United States, Zanbeel Art seeks to enrich and inspire students in low socio-economic schools through a variety of art related educational outreach programs.
More information about the group can be online at its website, www.zanbeelart.com.