Artists + Residents

The Arab American National Museum’s Artists + Residents program is a platform for established and emerging artists to cultivate and grow their practices while immersed in a supportive environment that encourages artistic collaboration and civic engagement in metro Detroit. 

The residency welcomes diverse local, national and international artists with creative and critical projects related to the Museum’s mission, vision and values. With a studio apartment at the City Hall Artspace Lofts directly across the street from AANM, resident artists make Dearborn their home, delve into the everyday life of the most concentrated Arab community in the U.S. and connect with diverse communities from the metro Detroit area and the world for inspiration, dialogue and collaboration.

Subscribe to the Artists + Residents Substack! 
Residents share reflections and updates on their residency projects.


Artists + Residents 2020-21 is generously supported by


Made possible in part by


Artists + Residents applications are currently closed. The next Open Call will be announced here. 

All artistic practices welcome to apply. The artist-in-residence is expected to lead some form of community-based public programming as part of their residency.

Residency includes:

  • Private 1,032sq. ft. furnished 1-bedroom apartment with live/work space, internet, in-unit washer/dryer, kitchen, full bath, in the City Hall Artspace Lofts
  • Unrestricted stipend based on residency duration and project
  • Access to AANM resources and community connections

Please note that travel cost to and from the residency is not covered, although certain local travel within the duration of the residency that supports the resident’s work may be covered.

For questions, contact aanmresidency “at” 


Zahra Almajidi | Oct.-Nov. 2021

As an object maker, Zahra Almajidi has come to learn the power objects hold in their ability to tell stories, in her case linked, as they are, to a culture and land lost to forced displacement. These very stories are often the only connection people of the diaspora have to their parents’ or grandparents’ culture.

During this residency, Zahra will continue her investigation of craft objects, influenced particularly by embroidered woven rugs made by crafts people from an ethnic group her parents belong to known as the Marsh Arabs. She is most interested in orchestrating a narrative, or a world of objects, inspired by her deep respect for the traditions of the village weavers and embroiderers, using individual elements one may encounter throughout their life. Much like the narratives woven and embroidered into the rugs of the Marsh Arabs, her goal is to create her own stories, influenced by her family’s experiences of war, forced migration, and resettlement—experiences familiar to many in the Arab American community.

Zahra will also lead Re/Crafted Histories, a two-part storytelling session and workshop centered around the mementos, family heirlooms, amulets, and charms taken up by those in our local communities.

Zahra Almajidi is a visual artist and metalsmith raised and based in Detroit, MI. Utilizing both traditional metalsmithing techniques and CAD/CAM processes, her work explores the ways in which objects and adornment allow one to question and contend with what it means to exist and to resist within a culture that hesitates to recognize and accept one as they are. She has worked at several art fabrication spaces in Metro Detroit including Wayne State University where she received her BFA in Metalsmithing, Lawrence Technological University where she briefly served as shop co-manager, and Cranbrook Academy of Art where she was awarded the Cranbrook Art Director’s fellowship and recently received her MFA in Metalsmithing. During her last semester at Cranbrook Academy of Art, she was the recipient of several awards and grants including the Red Bull Arts Detroit Microgrant, the Adornment + Theory BIPOC Seed Grant, and the Cranbrook Academy Director’s Award. Select pieces from her thesis installation were purchased by the Cranbrook Art Museum and accessioned into their permanent collection. She regularly participates in fabrication demos and workshops, and exhibits work both locally and nationally.

George Abraham & Fargo Tbakhi | Nov.-Dec. 2021

Tbakhi and Abraham are working towards a collaborative poetry and performance project tentatively titled EVE — A Palestinian Necropastoral. This project is a re-imagining of Milton’s Paradise Lost through the lens of Palestinian liberation: a Queering and anti-colonial subversion of the many layers of expulsion present within Paradise Lost. Ultimately, Eve poses the story of Palestinian resistance not as a stagnant or tired narrative, but as a futurism that lives and breathes through us.

During their time with AANM, Abraham and Tbakhi will work to craft a cohesive, self-contained section of Eve to share in EVE — A Poetry Performance Project at the close of the residency period. This section will eventually be incorporated into the larger project, which will exist as both a book and a staged performance. Abraham and Tbakhi will also be giving a two-part workshop during the course of the residency, Exploring Poetry through Performance.

Fargo Nissim Tbakhi is a queer Palestinian American performance artist and writer. He is the winner of the Ghassan Kanafani Resistance Arts Prize, a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, and a Taurus. He has received fellowships from Rhizome DC, VisArts, Desert Nights Rising Stars, Halcyon Arts Lab, Mosaic Theater, and RAWI. His writing appears in Foglifter, Mizna, Peach Mag, Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, the Shallow Ends, Prolit, and select bags of Nomadic Grounds Coffee. His performance work has been programmed at OUTsider Fest, INTER-SECTION Solo Fest, the Rachel Corrie Foundation’s Shuruq Festival, the Alwun House Monster’s Ball, Mosaic Theater, and has been supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

George Abraham is a Palestinian American poet, writer, and engineer who was born and raised on unceded Timucuan lands (Jacksonville, FL). His debut poetry collection Birthright (Button Poetry) won the Arab American Book Award and the Big Other Book Award, and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers, and recipient of fellowships from The Boston Foundation, and Kundiman. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Nation, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, Mizna, and elsewhere. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard University, Abraham is currently a Litowitz MFA+MA Candidate in poetry at Northwestern University.

Alia Ali | Oct. 2021 + Jan. 2022

الفلك // al-Falak by Alia Ali is a site-specific multimedia sculpture, commissioned by the Arab American National Museum, with the generous support of the Andrew Mellon Foundation.

A “museum within a museum” in the form of a Yemeni Futurist Starship named الفلك // al-Falak, this starship is a manifestation of actively reclaiming looted Yemeni artifacts housed in famous collections in Europe and the U.S. It takes on the form of a glass octopus with 72 digital screens, 9 on each tentacle, displaying a range of experimental videos. The result is an impressive constellation of multi-channel video installations that move vertically across the multiple stories of the Arab American National Museum’s atrium. The content of the videos embraces a variety of objects, ideas and heritage that الفلك // al-Falak takes back from Earth to carry into the galaxy towards the Red Star. This notion comes at a moment in time where Yemen is experiencing its seventh year of war and on Earth where there are less and less places for Yemenis to move and exist. By investigating histories of the distant past, Ali addresses the realities of the dystopian present in order to carve out spaces for radically imagined possibilities of the future in what has evolved to be Yemeni Futurism.

During her residency, Alia Ali will be working with a team of Detroit-based artists and fabricators on the construction of الفلك // al-Falak, as well as participating in Across Disciplines: Alia Ali & Tarek Yamani, a virtual artist discussion. 

Alia Ali (Arabic: عاليه علي // Sabean: ‎ 𐩲𐩱𐩡𐩺𐩲|𐩲𐩱𐩡) is a Yemeni-Bosnian-U.S. multi-media artist. A child of migrant linguists, Ali has traveled to sixty-seven countries, lived in and between seven, and grown up among five languages. Her migrations have led her to process the world through interactive experiences and the belief that the damage of translation and interpretation of written language has dis-served particular communities, resulting in the threat of their exclusion, rather than a means of understanding. As an artist who exists on the borders of identifying as West Asian, Eastern European, a United States citizen, queer, culturally Muslim yet spiritually independent, her work explores cultural binaries, challenges culturally sanctioned oppression, and confronts the dualistic barriers of conflicted notions of gender, politics, media, and citizenship. Through her practice, Ali critiques linguistics and inherited political structures and narratives, while simultaneously attempting to counter the polarization and miscommunication that imperils communities across the world, encouraging viewers to confront their own prejudices. Her work has been featured in the Financial Times, Le Monde, Vogue Arabic, Art Review, and Hyperallergic. Her work is in collections at Princeton University, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and numerous international private collections. Ali is a graduate of Wellesley College and the California Institute of the Arts. She lives and works in Los Angeles and Marrakech, and is a 2021 Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) in New Mexico.


Leyya Mona Tawil | Sept. 2021

MALAYEEN Voices is an interactive digital project by Leyya Mona Tawil hosted during her residency at the Arab American National Museum, and structured through the MALAYEEN.SPACE web-based audio work.

Throughout the residency, MALAYEEN Voices invites participants to sing their family, folk and homeland songs, which become transformed in the Malayeen.Space based on participants’ unique answers about time, origin, and subject of diasporic experience.

As Lime Rickey International, Leyya performed at AANM’s JAM3A music and arts festival with a set incorporating community songs gathered through the MALAYEEN Voices project, and excerpts from her upcoming work City & World. Leyya also hosted a panel at JAM3A on contemporary Arab dance music and the communities that it creates.

MALAYEEN.SPACE was conceived/designed by Leyya Mona Tawil [Lime Rickey International] and developed in collaboration with Andrej Hrončo (code/design). It exists as part of Lime Rickey International’s Noise & Nation — an accumulation of transmissions that attend to migration, temporality and a post-border dream.

An interactive audio experience in itself, MALAYEEN.SPACE also generates a community sound archive of the diasporic imagination. The song that plays back is modulated by the participant’s unique answers. The audio transformations are governed by the distance (in km) between you and the location of your song’s origin, your distance in time to this place, and the song’s intent.

MALAYEEN.SPACE was created during Leyya’s Net//Work Residency, and was exhibited in May 2021 by the British Council in partnership with Wysing Arts Centre and Digital Arts Studios. It is also supported by the East Bay Community Foundation (Oakland) and the California Arts Council.

Leyya Mona Tawil [Lime Rickey International] is an artist working with sound, performance and hybrid transmissions. Tawil is a Syrian, Palestinian, American engaged in the world as such. Her 25-year record of performances have been presented in the US, Europe, Russia, and the Arab world. She was the 2020 ISSUE Project Room Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow (NYC), 2018 Saari Fellow (FI), and was nominated for a 2019 Bessie Award in Music. Current year residencies include Net//Work @ Wysing Art Centre/British Council (UK), Sharjah Art Foundation, and the Arab American National Museum. She is the director of TAC Temescal Art Center in Oakland-CA, and founder of Arab.AMP — a platform supporting futurist art and ideas from the SWANA diaspora. The work of Lime Rickey International slips between codes of fiction, concept and embodied action in a manner that challenges cultural legibility. Tawil transmits nomadic knowledge through distortions of sonic, digital and physical form in order to cue ways of future building. 

Dana El Masri | Aug. 2021

Dana El Masri’s work encompasses bridging different cultures and mediums to create multi-sensory and immersive experiences. Focusing on the importance of our sense of smell in social interaction, cultural belonging and how scents make us feel. Her ultimate goal is to swap the euro-centric lens of perfumery with a multi-faceted, multicultural, flourishing universe of narratives.

During this residency, Dana continued her research on the connections between scent and culture, how it connects us to our memories of home, our sense of identity and living in diaspora. Oral histories can be passed down through scent and food, herbs and plants. In addition to researching olfactory traditions throughout the Southwest Asia and North African regions, and translating and creating a glossary of indigenous plant names, Dana also led two programs connecting people to their own memories with smell: A Scent-Memory Workshop with raw materials from the region, as well as a Smell Walk* in and around Dearborn.

*(based on “Three categories of smells” public smell intro kit, originally created by Kate McLean. The findings of the smell walk will be sent for her Sensory Maps project, adding to a global city database)

Read a reflection on the scents of Dearborn from Dana on the Artists + Residents substack:

Dearborn, through our sense of smell

Dana El Masri is a perfumer, interdisciplinary artist, educator and storyteller whose unique perception is inspired by the sights, scents and sounds of our current contemporary landscape as well as her deeply rooted Egyptian-Lebanese cultures and global life experience. She is the owner of Jazmin Saraï, an artisan line of small-batch, unisex perfumes and scented products handmade in Montreal, Canada.

Deena Mohamed | July 2021

Deena Mohamed’s graphic novel trilogy شبيك لبيك Shubeik Lubeik is an urban fantasy set in Cairo where wishes are literally for sale, and the more expensive they are the more powerful their ability to fulfill your dreams. Shubeik Lubeik tells the story of three first-class wishes and how they affect the lives of three characters trying to achieve their dreams in a wildly stratified society. Originally written and published in Arabic in three volumes, it is now set to be published in one combined English volume in 2022.

During this residency, Deena worked on the translation and adaptation of the English language volume of Shubeik Lubeik, including revisions and redrawing of parts of all three volumes. She also worked on planning a video essays/presentations series about Arab comics, to be available free online, with the intention of creating an entry point for anyone wanting to learn more about comics or get into making comics.

As a comics creator working in both Arabic and English, Deena’s writing process involves keeping in mind potential challenges that could impede translation and thinking carefully about cultural references and words without clear equivalences, as well as visual planning strategies for sequential art in multiple languages (particularly, two languages read in opposite directions). As part of her residency she hosted a workshop about the process of translating comics open to all languages, as well as engaging in a live interview and Q&A.

Read coverage of Deena’s translation workshop in the Detroit Metro Times

Deena Mohamed is an Egyptian illustrator and graphic designer who first started creating comics at 18 with the viral satirical webcomic starring a Muslim superheroine, Qahera. Her graphic novel trilogy, Shubeik Lubeik, is an urban fantasy set in Cairo about a world where you can buy and sell wishes. The first volume of the trilogy was awarded Best Graphic Novel and the Grand Prize of the Cairo Comix Festival (2017). All three volumes are published by Dar el Mahrousa in Arabic, and the English translation of all three volumes combined has been acquired by Pantheon (U.S.) and Granta (U.K.), due to be released in 2022. She lives and works in Cairo, Egypt.

Denmo Ibrahim | May-June 2021

As a first generation Egyptian American, born and raised in New York by immigrant parents with family in Cairo, Denmo Ibrahim often felt conflicted about her own identity and notions of home. In examining the connection between Chekhov’s play Three Sisters and Middle Eastern culture, she found many common themes illuminated, among them the tension of old world and new world mentality, the pressure to marry, the nostalgia for an unrecoverable home, classism, the colonial centering of European culture and the politics of family status.

During this residency Denmo worked on an adaptation of Three Sisters under the working title TALATA, which seeks to challenge racist notions of culturally specific work and caricatures of Arabs, Muslims and those from the Middle East on stage. By working with a classic text and re-imagining it in Dearborn, Michigan, working directly with the local Arab community, TALATA aims to explore classism, misogyny, colonialism and Islamophobia from an interior perspective of being Arab, Muslim, female and American.

AANM held a live virtual conversation with Denmo moderated by Assia Boundaoui; in advance of the presentation of Brilliant Mind by Denmo Ibrahim, a live and interactive digital theatre experience. Denmo also hosted, alongside past AANM artist-in-residence Heather Raffo, a virtual dialogue and workshop around SWANA women’s stories

Denmo Ibrahim is a first generation Egyptian American actor, playwright, short story author and screenwriter. A Sundance Theatre Lab Finalist, the SF Chronicle called her “a tower of strength in the Bay Area theatre scene.” Regional credits include Berkeley Repertory, American Conservatory of Theatre, The Old Globe, Seattle Rep, Marin Theatre Company and California Shakespeare Theatre. Her devised work has toured to international festivals in Egypt, France and Germany. In the U.S., her work has been supported by New York Theatre Workshop, Under St. Marks, Playwrights’ Center, Noor Theatre, University of Oregon, Golden Thread Productions, EXIT Theater, Alter Theatre and Zawaya. She is the creative director of Storykrapht, a founding artistic director of Mugwumpin, a resident artist of Golden Thread and a founding member of MENA Theatre Makers Alliance. Denmo holds an MFA from Naropa University and BFA from Boston University. A pilot of her new interactive film, The Brilliant Mind of Yusef El Musri, will have its world premiere at Marin Theatre Company (Spring 2021). She lives in San Francisco and Brooklyn.

Lara Atallah | April 2021

The Sun That Stood Still is an artist book that examines a shifting relationship to a shifting landscape. The book’s title is a reference to the winter solstice, the time at which Lara Atallah flew back to Beirut, Lebanon in 2019 to her recently deceased grandmother’s house. The book is about her grandmother, but also about loss, the Mediterranean, and living in a perpetual state of uprootedness while paradoxically finding grounding by the sea. Bringing together archival photographs and images made during yearly visits to Lebanon, the visuals are held together by a text that weaves a letter that is part ode, part elegy to a place that is perpetually disintegrating.

During her residency, which took place remotely, Lara focused on writing the text for The Sun That Stood Still and building out its layout, going through dozens of photographs made between 2012 and 2019 on her annual visits to Lebanon. Read two contributions from Lara to the Artists + Residents substack reflecting on her process and progress:

Reflections on grief and belonging
Weaving a story using words and images

Lara hosted What’s On Your Plate? a virtual open mic and iftar event, in celebration of Poetry Month and Arab American Heritage Month; a space for writers and musicians to share — what’s on your plate? — both literally and figuratively where writers of poetry, prose, music and more gathered to share their work and reflections.

Lara also paid a virtual visit to students of AANM’s SURA Arts Academy, sharing her experience as a photographer. 

Lara Atallah is a New York-based artist and writer. Her practice is informed by her interest in the political nature of landscape, and the power it holds to reshape our perception of borders. Her work has been exhibited in the U.S. and internationally. Her work is part of the Onassis Cultural Foundation’s collection in Athens, as well as the NYU Langone Art Collection. Recent exhibitions include the American University Museum, Trestle Gallery, ON CANAL. Her first book, Edge of Elysium, Vol.1 was published by Open Projects Press in September 2019. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, Camera Austria, Flash Art Italia and The Brooklyn Rail among others.

Andrea Assaf | Feb. 2021

DRONE is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by the Arab American National Museum, Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) New Orleans, Art2Action Inc., and NPN. DRONE is an Art2Action production, made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 

During her residency, taking place remotely, Andrea Assaf will develop the script and media for DRONE, a new play co-commissioned by AANM, while exploring new directions necessitated by the virtual world we now inhabit. The process will include online ensemble-building, and collaboration with interactive website and media designers. Script development will culminate on an online reading of the first full draft, for feedback from theatre professionals.

Community members will be able to engage with the creative process in several ways throughout the residency. The creative team will share research and visual ideas through a blog, and invite audiences to participate in an online Reflection Session exploring themes of surveillance and drone technology in the post-9/11 era. Andrea will also launch an open call for video submissions, responding to specific themes, and offer a workshop for those interested in submitting on how to develop the story you want to tell.

Andrea Assaf is a Lebanese American performer, writer, director and cultural organizer. She is the founding Artistic Director of Art2Action Inc. Her original work, Eleven Reflections on September, has been featured at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) as part of the National Asian American Theatre Festival, La MaMa, The Apollo Theatre, The Kennedy Center, and internationally. Awards and Recognitions include: 2019 Pushcart Prize Nomination, 2019 NEFA National Theatre Project, 2019 & 2011 NPN Creation Fund Commissions, 2017 Finalist for the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism, 2010 Princess Grace Award, and more. Andrea has a master’s degree in Performance Studies and a BFA in Acting, both from NYU. She currently serves on the Board of the Consortium of Asian American Theatres & Artists (CAATA), Alternate ROOTS, and is a Steering Committee member of the Middle Eastern/North African Theatre-Makers Alliance (MENATMA).

Almigdad Aldikhaiiry | Jan. 2021

Almigdad Aldikhaiiry is an environmental artist who has devoted his artistic expertise to nature and climate change for over ten years. He also looks at his art as a means to fight crises, especially in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether long-term, significant changes in our environment happen naturally or in response to human activities, the evidence for rapid climate change is compelling, and Almigdad believes art can make a difference in the way we, as a global community, respond to it.

This residency was spent developing on an oil painting series related to the environment, pollution and climate change, for a future exhibition at AANM, titled كینونة – Existence, including works commissioned by the Museum.

Almigdad Aldikhaiiry is a Sudanese artist currently based in the U.S. Since graduating from the Fine Arts College in Khartoum, he has travelled across the globe working as a painter and contemporary artist for several years. Aldikhaiiry has shown in a variety of prominent galleries across the Middle East. His work has recently been featured in galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Denver and Detroit with overwhelmingly positive reception. His most passionate subject continues to be tackling climate change and environment, spending much of the last decade focused on expressing his thoughts and feelings on pollution and the environment through his art, as he firmly believes the work of artists and his contribution can make a difference by creating attention and awareness.

Zahir Janmohamed | Nov. 2020

From the coronavirus pandemic to the Beirut blasts to the U.S. elections, 2020 has been intense. Writer/journalist Zahir Janmohamed’s focus with this residency was on telling and documenting 2020 stories. 

Zahir led Telling Our 2020 Stories, an online interactive writing workshop series to help participants write and develop their own stories about what they are going through the pandemic and this intense year, with sessions focusing on personal essay writing, poetry and visual storytelling and food writing. Each workshop featured guest speakers from the metro Detroit area who are experts in their field. The series concluded with an online Share-out & Discussion in which participants were invited to share their writing and stories. 

Zahir is also spent his residency looking at the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on Arab and Arab American communities in the U.S. with a focus on Dearborn, sharing blog posts around the election, pandemic-related domestic violence spikes and more through a substack newsletter. This culminated in a piece for Eater Detroit focused on how Dearborn’s Arab American food scene has been coping amid the pandemic. 

Zahir Janmohamed is a Zell Writing Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he received awards in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and playwriting. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Guernica and many other publications. He has received fellowships and scholarships from MacDowell, Tin House, Bread Loaf, Kundiman, VONA and Djerassi. He is also the co-founder of the James Beard nominated podcast Racist Sandwich and now serves on the James Beard Journalism Committee. Prior to beginning his writing career, he worked as a senior foreign policy aide to Keith Ellison in the U.S. Congress and as the Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

Leila Awadallah | Sept.-Oct. 2020

TERRANEA: hakawati of the sea is an interdisciplinary dance performance developed by dancer/choreographer Leila Awadallah, rooted in dance-making that weaves historical, cultural and mythological archives of the Mediterranean region. 

During this residency, Leila worked on weaving together stories centering SWANA bodies in relation to the sea while developing TERRANEA, in collaboration with the community through Mediterranean: Mythology, Migration, Memory, an open call for audio recordings to be incorporated into the performance.

Along with dancers Anurima Kumar and Elisandra Mairym Rosario, Leila conceived and performed in Body Watani: soul speak, a drive-in dance performance that took place in the parking lot behind AANM, amid a circle of car headlights; each short performance a unique meditation on ancestral roots, internal and collective healing, and finding fire within our body soul.

Leila also put out a call for dance video submissions for Distance Dance!, a film project to find ways to dance together from our own homes. Videos were edited together and presented as part of Move American: Screening & Discussion w/ Leila Awadallah & Zaquia Mahler Salinas, an online dance screening event as one of 7 presentations in DISCO RIOT’s Move American series. In addition, she was a panelist/performer at AANM’s annual Forum on Community, Culture & Race, this year titled Community Self-Determination

Leila Awadallah; LeilAwa is a Palestinian American artist working with embodied research and storytelling through dance performance composed within a human rights and social justice focus. Her artistic practice begins with ‘body watani’—centering the body as a sacred living archive of genetic/cellular memories of histories, lands and roots—a pathway towards healing and connectivity. LeilAwa’s projects and collaborations merge dance with mediums such as film, live music, theatre and durational installation performance pieces primarily in the Twin Cities and Beirut / Sour, Lebanon. RAS ABU AMMAR IS HERE—a collaboration between 3 Palestinian artists (Leila, Noelle Awadallah and Lamia Abukhadra)—was created in and shared through the Daring Dances Fellowship, premiering at AANM in November 2019. LeilAwa performed with Ananya Dance Theatre for 5 seasons, and is a dance teacher and cultural activist, born and based on Dakota land.

Mona Kareem | July-Aug. 2020

Crossover by writer/translator Mona Kareem is a poetry collection that touches on themes particular to Arab experience/s in the United States: the loss or gain of language, the weight of a marked body passing through airports, the lingua of immigration and bureaucratic violence, and the fetishization of Arab sexuality in visual culture and colonial imaginary. The poems cross a range of narratives, working beyond the typical family-story, as many of us have arrived alone to this continent. They explore what this loneliness entails, especially for the bilingual artist.

Mona’s residency, taking place remotely, was spent finalizing Crossover, also sharing work-in-progress from it during a live reading and conversation with AANM director Diana Abouali. In addition, Mona hosted a virtual workshop on using poetry as a medium to explore and intertwine the personal with the political, centering on themes, practices, theory and/or poetics of translation in relation to expression and narrative. Participants were provided with two texts selected by Mona to review and complete a writing prompt prior to the workshop, which then took place over Zoom, with a close reading of selected texts and open reading and discussion of participants’ poems. 

Mona Kareem is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Femme Ghosts (Publication Studio, 2019), a trilingual chapbook. Her work has been translated into nine languages and published in anthologies and periodicals, including Brooklyn Rail, Michigan Quarterly Review, Ambit, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Asymptote, Words Without Borders, Poetry International, PEN English, Modern Poetry in Translation, Two Lines and Specimen. She has held fellowships with Poetry International, BANFF Center, Norwich Center and Forum Transregionale Studien. Kareem has been a featured writer at festivals and conferences in Cairo, Istanbul, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Seoul, Copenhagen and across the United States. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from SUNY Binghamton, and has taught at SUNY Binghamton, Rutgers, Bronx Community College and the University of Maryland.

Ibi Ibrahim | July-Aug. 2020

What does it mean for one to be a stranger in their own birthplace/city? Ibi Ibrahim was born in Dearborn in summer 1987, but left with his family shortly after. His connection to Dearborn remained somehow relevant over the years, as it houses the largest Yemeni American community.

During this residency, Ibi sought to examine the Yemeni American experience through interactive activities with young Yemeni Americans living and working in Dearborn today, working with photography and multimedia components to reflect on various elements of the diaspora experience, the war in Yemen and Yemeni American identity.

In his first month stay in Dearborn, in the midst of the city adapting to new norms of Covid-19 policies, it became challenging to undergo certain elements of this proposal. Through meeting a few Yemeni women, Ibi came to realize that the struggle of being a Yemeni woman in Dearborn is far greater than one can imagine, and somehow making a path for ‘their’ dreams takes a village. This took him down the route of developing two projects: 

Work #01: Reclaiming Realities | Video
A video work that will consist of audio interviews with three Yemeni American women; each holding her own narrative and story of struggle in becoming, and reclaiming, her reality.
The video will address the Yemeni American experience from the perspective of these women, and be accompanied by video footage from Dearborn/Detroit captured by Ibi during the residency period.

Work #02: How do you want to be portrayed? | Photography
A new photography series that deals with the image of the Yemeni American woman within her own environment. Based on initial interviews, the notion of how women are portrayed within the Arab American community in Dearborn was a constant topic. This photo series is an invitation to Yemeni women living in America to work collectively with the artist on how they want to be portrayed/presented in a photo. They control the narrative and story, and by doing so, confirm ownership of their own body/image while confronting stereotypes and perceived notions of Yemeni Women living in America. 

AANM also partnered with Ibi and Romooz Foundation to present two film screenings: Yemeni Stories Told by Yemeni Filmmakers, a showcase of documentary short films from various Yemeni filmmakers along with a post-film talkback with some of the filmmakers; and the hit Yemeni film 10 Days Before the Wedding, with Ibi hosting a talkback with director Amr Gamal.

Ibi Ibrahim is a Yemeni American visual artist, filmmaker and art practitioner. He works and lives in Sana’a, Yemen. He is the director of Romooz Foundation, an independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to support emerging Art and Literature in Yemen. In late 2019, he co-founded ARSHEEF, a contemporary art gallery based in Sana’a dedicated to emerging talent.

Mariam Bazeed & Kamelya Omayma Youssef | June 2020

This project is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by AANM in partnership with NPN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). 

Mariam Bazeed and Kamelya Omayma Youssef are co-writing a new play titled Kilo Batra (a play on an Arabic/Egyptian transliteration of “Cleopatra”) in collaboration with Detroit-based theater ensemble A Host of People and its co-director Sherrine Azab. A Host of People creates original, multimedia theater that looks to the past, to speak to the present, in order to imagine and create a better future. The seed of this work is being reimagined from the world in and around Egyptian poet and playwright Ahmed Shawki’s 1927 play The Death of Cleopatra, putting it directly in conversation with issues of contemporary Arab culture and beyond. AANM and A Host of People will later present a theatrical production of Kilo Batra .

Mariam and Kamelya also hosted a two-part online workshop in conjunction with AANM’s Virtual Book Club, bringing community together for timely and crucial discussions about white supremacy and racism within each of ourselves and within the Arab American community, with exercises from and dialogue around the book Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. 

Mariam Bazeed is a nonbinary Egyptian immigrant, writer, and performer living in a rent-stabilized apartment in Brooklyn. An alliteration-leaning writer of prose, poetry, plays, and personal essays, Mariam received an MFA in Fiction from Hunter College in 2018. M’s work has been supported by fellowships from the Asian American Writers Workshop, the Center for Fiction, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU, the Lambda Literary Foundation, Trans Lab, and by Sound Lab at The Brick; and with residencies from Hedgebrook, Marble House Project, the Millay Colony, and the Kimmel Nelson Harding Center for the Arts. M’s first play, Peace Camp Org—available in anthology from Oberon Books, UK—has been presented at La Mama Theater, NYC (2017) in the Squirts Festival of Queer Performance Art; the Arcola Theatre, London (2018), in its inaugural festival of International Queer Playwrights; and The Wild Project, NYC (2018), in the Fresh Fruit Festival, where it won that year’s Spirit Award. To procrastinate from facing the blank page, Mariam curates and runs a monthly(ish) world-music salon and open mic in Brooklyn, and is a slow student of Arabic music.

Kamelya Omayma Youssef is a writer from Dearborn, Michigan. She tends to blur the borders between forms and she hopes that one day borders are obliterated entirely. Her poems and lyric essays have been published in Mizna, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Bird’s Thumb, the captions on her instagram posts, an anthology of Arab American creative nonfiction, on the theater stage with A Host of People. Her recent years have consisted of study and formal academic pursuits, including an M.A. in poetry and aesthetic theory, with a specific focus on Etel Adnan’s poetics, at Wayne State University where she also received several poetry awards. Currently, she is an M.F.A candidate in poetry at New York University, where she is working on several manuscripts. She has also developed and presented ongoing research projects on Arab American ecopoetics, Arab American nostalgia, and collaborative SWANA Futurism. Teaching is as central to her life as writing is; Kamelya has been a college instructor for both English and Creative Writing, a high school English teacher, an education coordinator for LEAP at Borj al-Shamaly, an English teacher for immigrant adult learners, and a youth poetry teacher with Detroit’s Inside Out Literary Arts—all the while developing social-justice-centered curriculum for her own classroom and others.

Yasmine Nasser Diaz | March 2020

soft powers by Yasmine Nasser Diaz is a solo exhibition that reflects on coming-of-age nostalgia and Yemeni American girlhood, featuring never before shown fiber etchings and a site-specific installation that is a continuation of her “Teenage Bedroom” series. It addresses subjects familiar to many children of immigrants including code-switching, plural identities and conflicting loyalties.

Yasmine worked on development and installation of this exhibition during her residency, including the creation of AANM commissioned pieces.

Yasmine Nasser Diaz navigates overlapping tensions around religion, gender and third-culture identity using personal archives, found imagery and various media on paper as well as installation. Born and raised in Chicago to parents who immigrated from the highlands of southern Yemen, her mixed media work often reflects personal histories of the opposing cultures she was raised within. She has exhibited and performed at spaces including the Brava Theater in San Francisco, the Torrance Art Museum, Charlie James Gallery, and Station Beirut. Diaz is a 2019 California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellow with works included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The University of California Los Angeles, and The Poetry Project Space in Berlin. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Alia Taqieddin | Feb. 2020

Alia Taqieddin’s residency focused on the curation of a collective memory of Dearborn that is constructed by those who are most intimately tethered to its past, present and future. Through a series of facilitated and recorded conversations, this project explores the complexity of immortalizing a collective imagination. When we choose how memories of Dearborn past are shared, and explore an imagination of future Dearborn, what theses, antitheses and syntheses arise? This project intends to curate a collective memory, which, through the process of recording and archiving, cannot be rewritten, erased or manipulated.

Alia hosted an open conversation with community members at AANM with the goal of collecting memories to create and solidify a narrative for Dearborn; these now form part of AANM’s Oral History collection. This culminated in a DJ audio showcase by Alia incorporating the collected stories, as part of a community reception in conjunction with a theatre performance of And Then We Met… by Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi at AANM.

Alia Taqieddin is a Seattle-based facilitator and DJ of mixed Shami and western European descent. Her practice explores alternative archival methods as tools for narrating individual and collective ownership of change. She draws from transnational women of color thought, and the stories and imaginations of her family in Syrian diaspora. Her work has appeared as workshop curricula, poetry and audio. Taqieddin graduated in 2018 from Western Washington University with degrees in Critical Arab Diaspora Studies and Community Health. She currently works for the Rachel Corrie Foundation, a non-profit remembering the Washington-based human rights activist through Palestine-centered political and cultural resistance.

Baraa Ktiri | Jan. 2020

Baraa Ktiri spent her residency working on her documentary series about hijab, For Covered Girls. “I started wearing the hijab when I was ten, and have long since worked towards creating a piece that would highlight the conversations Muslim women and girls have with each other regularly when it comes to this practice of our faith. I see this project both as a love letter to those within my community, and a resource to remind and teach ourselves and others of what came before.” For Covered Girls explores the way hijab operates and exists within the metro Detroit area, specifically from a commercial perspective.

Baraa hosted a filmed roundtable discussion at AANM with Muslim women and girls of all ages and backgrounds, centering on the hijab in all aspects: personal, professional and political, where participants were able to open up about their experiences and complex relationships with hijab. Read coverage of this event by the Detroit News 

Baraa Ktiri is a Moroccan American photographer, writer and filmmaker. Often told through a vérité, and conversational style, her personal work centers on religion, immigration and identity. She loves to explore language within her art, and the way those living between cultures blend it. Ktiri began her technical education in photography and video at Oakland Community College, and completed her studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Maya James | Nov.-Dec. 2019

During her residency, Maya James worked on art for her upcoming graphic novel, LUKUMI (Maamoul Press, 2020), which explores the relationships between black women and their environment, history and ancestry, and Afro-Atlantic faith. It follows the relationship between Aida and Clarisse, two best friends of different backgrounds who lose each other before a tragedy which changes Aida’s life forever.

Maya hosted an art talk at AANM on art as business and navigating the marginalized art community in Michigan, discussing her own experience and subjects of resilience, black power, feminism and the next steps for art liberation. 

Maya James is a storyteller, spoken word poet, organizing activist, political multimedia artist and president of the NMC Black Student Union. Her work includes storytelling on “Risk!” episode #639 ‘Survivors’, a feature in The New York Times, spoken word at the Portland Poetry Slam of 2013 and with the infamous Climbing PoeTree during their Hagerty Center performance in 2015, art exhibition Hybrid at Twisted Fish Gallery in Elk Rapids, Michigan, and organizing and hosting “What’s Real: Being Gay in Black America”, a night of comedy that united, publicized and funded local social justice groups. ​She regularly organizes and delivers speeches at community organizations about all forms of social injustice, but particularly the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Levon Kafafian | Sept.-Nov. 2019

Levon Kafafian used AANM’s historical archives to research ways of life across Southwest Asia during the late Ottoman era in conjunction with the Museum’s Library & Resource Center to research future-facing narratives for a new graphic novel, Portal Fire. It tells the story of an orphan named Maro, their journey through old prophecies and the team of archaeologists who begin excavating remnants of Maro’s city 1,000 years later. Portal Fire is a story born of a desire to see future-facing/speculative narratives and queer representation in graphic arts media depicting Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) cultures outside of an Orientalist lens.

Levon’s residency culminated in a multimedia exhibition as part of AANM’s Fall/Winter Gallery Pop-up Series. The opening line to the quintessential Armenian folktale, Once There Was and Once There Was Not is an invitation into the speculative past, the incredibility of reality and the fantastic within the mundane.

Levon hosted two workshops during this residency: Weaving Worlds, a workshop exploring the relationship between the crafts of weaving and creative writing, and Reading Coffee, Writing the Future, an informal salon style discussion and workshop on the social and divinatory practices of coffee serving/fortune reading. 

Levon Kafafian creates tactile and sensory works on the threshold of transition, applying the process of weaving beyond thread into visual, performative and social practice. Kafafian practices in the Detroit community through the use of textile craft, ancestral lifeways and magical experience, and is co-creative director of Fringe Society, an artist collective that creates hybrid, experimental works toward a more just and equitable future. They hold a BFA in Crafts: Fibers from the College for Creative Studies and a BA in Anthropology from Wayne State University.

Jacqueline Reem Salloum | Aug. 2019

In Memory Metamorphosis & Memory Modulations, an upcoming exhibition at AANM curated by Jacqueline Reem Salloum, memories establish a connection between personal and collective past, heritage and history. They give shape to identity that has been fragmented by displacement, exile and immigration.

During her residency Jacqueline interviewed community members, primarily of an older generation who immigrated to the U.S. in their teens or as adults, using music from a curated playlist based on background info provided before the interview to evoke autobiographical memories. The project aims to document, explore and preserve diasporic memory of Arabs through these video recorded interviews, which are then transformed into various art forms (i.e; sculpture, painting) in addition to being preserved in AANM’s Oral History collection. The art pieces inspired by these memories, along with a selection of works from other artists curated by Jacqueline, will form the exhibition.

Jacqueline Reem Salloum is a Brooklyn based artist and filmmaker of Palestinian and Syrian descent. Her multi-media based artwork focuses on documenting histories and memories of people, including her family, that have been fragmented by displacement, exile and immigration. Salloum’s film work includes experimental video pieces like Planet of the Arabs, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. She directed the award-winning feature documentary on the Palestinian Hip Hop scene, Slingshot Hip Hop, which premiered at the Sundance film festival. Salloum’s art and video work have been exhibited in solo and group shows in the U.S. and internationally including Mori Art Museum, Japan; Reina Sofia, Spain; Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Taiwan; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Palazzo Papesse Centre for Contemporary Art, Sienna, Italy, Wallspace Gallery, New York and Void Gallery, Ireland as well as film festivals; IDFA, New Directors New Films, Tiff kids, DoxBox Syria and Beirut International Film Festival. As Artist-in-Residence at New York University (where she also received her MFA) Salloum co-taught the class, Memory Metamorphosis.

Farah Al-Qasimi | July-Aug. 2019

Farah Al-Qasimi’s Between Two Worlds: Arab Americans in Detroit is a photo and video project focusing on the metro Detroit Arab American community, in partnership with Wayne State University and with support from the Knight Foundation.

Farah spent her residency creating a photographic and video-based body of work with the aim of using art as a tool to influence the perception of culture, race and belonging, as well as to reflect the richness of metro Detroit’s Arab American communities. This project culminated in her solo exhibition Brotherville at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Farah also presented a lecture to students of AANM’s SURA Arts Academy, speaking about her journey in becoming a professional photographer and her process.

Farah Al-Qasimi is an artist and musician. She received her BA from Yale University and her MFA in Photography from the Yale School of Art. Selected exhibitions include More Good News at Helena Anrather (NYC), No to The Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effects at CCS Bard (Annondale-on-Hudson, NY), Coming Up Roses at The Third Line (Dubai), the first Biennial for Arab Photography at Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris), Walls and Margins at the Barjeel Art Foundation (Sharjah) and Emirati Expressions at Manarat al Saadiyat (Abu Dhabi). She has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Delfina Foundation, and at the Burren College of Art. In 2014, she participated in the Sheikha Salama Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship in Abu Dhabi. Her work is housed in public collections including the Barjeel Art Foundation and Maraya Art Centre (both Sharjah, U.A.E.). She is currently based between NYC and Dubai.

Frank Waln | April-May 2019

This residency was in partnership with American Indian Health & Family Services (AIHFS) and Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), and made possible in part by the National Performance Network (NPN) of which AANM is a partner.

Frank Waln first performed at AANM in 2014 and has gone on to earn great acclaim for his artistry and activism, which has focused on the Keystone XL pipeline among other issues affecting Indigenous Peoples. With this residency, he returned to AANM to share stories and music connecting his experience as an Indigenous artist to his 2017 trip to Palestine for the first time publicly.

Frank hosted a community dialogue event at the Museum titled Living Under Occupation: From Turtle Island to Palestine alongside PYM’s Lenna Zahran Nasr, entailing an introspective presentation and discussion on settler-colonialism and solidarity. He later visited a Fordson High School music class, where he shared personal experiences, information on the brutality and genocide against Indigenous Peoples that is not often detailed in schools, as well as some music, encouraging students to find their outlets for expression.

Frank expressed that this residency finally allowed him the time and headspace to fully begin processing, talking about and writing about what he experienced on his artist delegation trip to Palestine. He wrote two new music pieces about Palestine during his time in Dearborn, which he debuted at the culmination of his residency, a concert at AANM. Listen to Frank’s interview with CJAM radio conducted ahead of the concert. 

Frank Waln is an award-winning Sicangu Lakota hiphop artist and music producer from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. A recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, Waln attended Columbia College Chicago where he received a BA in Audio Arts and Acoustics. Waln’s awards include three Native American Music Awards, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development 2014 Native American 40 Under 40, the 2014 Chicago Mayor’s Award for Civic Engagement and the 2016 3Arts Grant for Chicago Artists. He has been featured in Buzzfeed, The Fader, Playboy, Vibe, NPR, ESPN, and MTV’s Rebel Music Native America. Waln has written for various publications including Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society and The Guardian. Waln travels the world telling his story through performance and doing workshops focusing on self-empowerment and expression of truth.

Zeyn Joukhadar | March-April 2019

Zeyn Joukhadar used AANM’s archives to research the history of the Syrian American community over the last century for a new novel, which tells the story of two friends separated in the 1930s when one of their families leaves Syria for New York and the contemporary descendant who seeks, against a backdrop of American racism, Islamophobia, and violence, to reunite them before it’s too late.

Zeyn also presented a 7-week workshop series for writers in the community interested in generating new work, developing their writing craft and strengthening their work for publication; and gave a reading and author discussion at AANM’s Book + Print Fest.

Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of novels The Map of Salt and Stars (Touchstone/S&S, 2018) and The Thirty Names of Night (Atria/S&S, 3 Nov 2020) and a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI). His work has appeared in Sukoon, Salon, The Paris Review Daily, The Kenyon Review and elsewhere, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. The Map of Salt and Stars, currently being translated into twenty languages, was a 2018 Middle East Book Award winner. He has received fellowships from the Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Program, the Arab American National Museum, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Camargo Foundation and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

Leila Abdelrazaq | Jan.-March 2019

Leila Abdelrazaq utilized her residency to develop an in-progress graphic novel, as well as give an 8-week comics workshop in conjunction with Maamoul Press (of which Abdelrazaq is a co-founder), co-taught by Aya Krisht, geared towards participants of Middle Eastern and North African descent. This workshop provided an intensive theoretical and hands-on learning experience about all aspects of comics and comic-making via lectures, demos, exercises, access to a comics and zines library, studio time and feedback sessions as participants created and self-published their own 8-16 page comics zines. The artists then had the opportunity to share and sell their work at AANM’s 2nd annual Book + Print Fest. Leila and Maamoul Press raised funds to provide each participant with a print and production stipend, in addition to one participant being selected as a RAWI fellow and receiving a grant from RAWI to produce their work.

Leila Abdelrazaq is a Palestinian author and artist born in Chicago and currently living in Detroit. Her debut graphic novel, Baddawi (Just World Books 2015) was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards and has been translated into three languages. She is also the author and illustrator of The Opening (Tosh Fesh, 2017) as well as a number of zines and short comics. Her creative work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory and borders. She is co-founder of Maamoul Press, a multi-disciplinary collective for the creation, curation, and dissemination of art by marginalized creators whose work lies at intersections of comics, print making and book arts. Leila earned her MA in Modern Middle Eastern & North African Studies from the University of Michigan in 2020, where she was a two-time FLAS Fellow. Her research focused on Palestinian futurist art and literature and post-national imaginaries. She is currently a contributing writer at Palestine Square, the blog of the Institute for Palestine Studies.

Maria Del Carmen Montoya + Ghana ThinkTank | June-July 2018

Maria del Carmen Montoya is one of three U.S.-based facilitators for the international arts collective, Ghana ThinkTank, who along with other organizations formed a partnership with a think tank in Morocco to work on American Riad, a three year project of skill-shares and public art between Morocco and Detroit to build a community of affordable homes and businesses with Detroiters.

While in residency at AANM, Maria worked on a Viral Language Lab project to explore different soundscapes in Dearborn with the community. She developed a Viral Language Lab Mobile Unit to create screen prints with community members centered around the language they use. Maria led workshop participants through the process of printing their own words and creating cultural talismans for use in their daily lives. The Viral Language Lab creates a context for critical conversations about subjects including the trauma of gentrification, the urgent need to create safe spaces for women and girls, and strategies for ensuring access to clean drinking water. This mobile unit made stops at the Museum’s Arab Film Festival as well as other community locations, later traveling to California and Washington, D.C. after its launch at AANM.

Watch a video of the Viral Language Lab

Maria del Carmen Montoya operates in the contested ground between art and social activism. Her primary medium is the communal process of making meaning. As an artist, she seeks ways to catalyze this natural social phenomenon with situations that insist on the power of human-scale intervention in the presumed inevitability of everyday life. She believes that art can be a potent crucible for social change. She has lived and worked throughout Latin America where she served as the sole interpreter for an assembly of rural farms in San Salvador, an advocate for battered women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and an English teacher for a craft cooperative in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Her work has been shown at SIGGRAPH, PERFORMA, New Museum Festival of Ideas, ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Venice Biennial of Architecture and Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras, in Morelia, Mexico, where she co-founded an artist residency for multimedia performance art. Montoya is an assistant professor in sculpture and spatial practices at the Corcoran School of Art and Design at George Washington University.

Ping Chong & Co. + Sherrine Azab | April-May 2018

The pioneering site-specific community theater project Undesirable Elements is an ongoing series of interview-based theater works by the world-renowned Ping Chong + Company, examining issues of culture and identity in specific communities. Rather than a traditional play or documentary-theater project performed by actors, Undesirable Elements is presented as a chamber piece of story-telling; a “seated opera for the spoken word.”

During this residency, Ping Chong + Company worked with Arab American women from Dearborn to reclaim their stories and dispel stereotypes and misconceptions, creating the theatrical production Undesirable Elements/Dearborn, co-written and directed by Ping Chong + Company associate director Sara Zatz and A Host of People co-director Sherrine Azab. Interviews—adapted and occasionally theatricalized—formed the basis of a script weaving participants’ individual experiences together in a chronological narrative, connecting the personal to the political. The interviewees retained the final right of review and approval on the script, which was performed by them in a live theatrical production accompanied by a livestream.

Ping Chong + Company produces theatrical works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, striving to reach the widest audiences with the greatest level of artistic innovation and social integrity. The company was founded in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator Ping Chong with a mission to create works of theater and art that explore the intersections of race, culture, history, art, media and technology in the modern world. Today, Ping Chong + Company produces original works by a close-knit ensemble of affiliated artists, under the artistic leadership of Ping Chong. Productions range from intimate oral history projects to grand scale cinematic multidisciplinary productions featuring puppets, performers, and full music and projection scores. The art reveals beauty, precision, and a commitment to social justice.

Noor Theatre + Ismail Khalidi | Dec. 2017

This residency was made possible in part by the National Performance Network (NPN) of which AANM is partner, and MAP Fund.

During his residency Ismail Khalidi along with Noor Theatre worked on the development of a new theatrical work, Dead Are My PeopleThe story follows Nicola, who having fled the famine-stricken mountains of Lebanon for the U.S. during WWI, hopes to track down his uncle Tanios who emigrated years before. Finding few traces of Tanios besides his peddler cart, and conflicting information of townspeople, Nicola must ultimately navigate the treacherous terrain of the Jim Crow South.

A staged reading of Dead Are My People was performed at AANM, with music by Hadi Eldebek. The performance was presented in conjunction with AANM’s exhibition THEM: Objects of Separation, Hate and Violence, a project created by the Jim Crow Museum to highlight hurtful stereotypes.

Ismail also participated in a panel discussion titled White Supremacy: Arab and African American Experience in the Jim Crow South at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Watch the panel here.

Ismail Khalidi, born in Beirut to Palestinian parents and raised in Chicago, is a playwright and director who has written, directed, performed, curated and taught internationally. Khalidi’s plays include Tennis in Nablus (Alliance Theatre, 2010), Truth Serum Blues (Pangea World Theater, 2005), Foot (Teatro Amal, 2016-17), Sabra Falling (Pangea World Theater, 2017), Returning to Haifa (Finborough Theatre, 2018) and Dead Are My People (Noor Theatre, 2019). Khalidi’s plays have been published in numerous anthologies. His writing on politics and culture has appeared in The Nation, Guernica, American Theatre Magazine and Remezcla. His poetry and plays have been published by Mizna, and he co-edited Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (TCG, 2015). Khalidi has received commissions from the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Noor Theatre, Pangea World Theatre and The Public Theatre, and has been a Visiting Artist at Teatro Amal in Chile. He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Noor Theatre is an Obie-winning Company dedicated to supporting, developing and producing the work of theatre artists of Middle Eastern descent. its programming supports work at different stages of development, whether early drafts of new plays or world premiere productions. Through its Highlight Reading Series, co-presentation partnerships with universities and other organizations, and Premiere Productions or 48 Hour Forum, its aims to create exceptional work that transcends cultural boundaries and speaks to all people. Noor Theatre is a Company-In-Residence at New York Theatre Workshop.

National Arab Orchestra (NAO) + Mohannad Ghawanmeh | July-Oct. 2017

This project is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by AANM, the City of Chicago and NPN, in partnership with the National Arab Orchestra (NAO), with additional support from the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

In this residency, National Arab Orchestra founder/director Michael Ibrahim created an original score to accompany rarely-seen silent films from the 1920s and 1930s by pioneering Egyptian director Mohamed Bayoumi, in consultation with Egyptian history and film scholar Mohannad Ghawanmeh.

A screening of The Films of Mohamed Bayoumi featuring the world premiere of the live score by the National Arab Orchestra—with nine musicians of the NAO Takht Ensemble playing both traditional Arab and contemporary instruments—was held at the DIA, as the Friday Night Signature Event of the first annual MOVE Arab American Summit, of which AANM is a co-host. This first of its kind in North America combination of historical instrumentation and silent film was enmeshed with narration by Ghawanmeh preceding each film segment.

Ibrahim and Ghawanmeh also participated in a panel discussion at MOVE, discussing the creative process behind the project, the historical significance of the films, how they relate to the music and modern interpretation.

The National Arab Orchestra is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and integrating Arab culture by creating memorable musical experiences through education and performance, with emphasis on the musical traditions of the Arab world. The NAO is dedicated to preserving and performing the classical and contemporary traditions of Arab music, and provides opportunities that will bridge social and cultural barriers through music.

Michael Ibrahim is a dynamic conductor and a recognized innovator in the Arab music circuit. He began his musical studies on the ‘Ud, later studying the Bassoon and Nay as his musical training progressed. Ibrahim studied under renowned musicians Simon Shaheen, Johnny Sarweh, Nadeem Dlaikan, Douglas Bianchi, Anthony Iannaccone, Dr. David Pierce, Robert Williams and Victoria King. He earned a bachelor degree in music from Eastern Michigan University, and a Master of Music degree in conducting from Wayne State University. His role as an educator, providing instrumental and ensemble instruction, lectures and demonstrations on Arab music, privately and in the classroom at university and grade school levels, ultimately brought him to founding the National Arab Orchestra, where he currently serves as Music Director.

Mohannad Ghawanmeh is a film scholar and cineaste. He has produced, acted in, curated for, written about and lectured on film. His expertise is centered on Arab cinema, but thoroughly extends into silent cinema, non-fiction cinema, transnational cinema, religious cinema and more. He is a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies in the University of California, Los Angeles. Mohannad is recipient of the Teshome Gabriel Memorial Award, the Dr. Jack Shaheen Memorial Scholarship, the Otis Ferguson Memorial Award for Critical Writing, and the Kemp R. Niver Scholarship in Film History. He was a 2017/18 fellow in the American Research Center in Egypt where his dissertation investigated the political economy of silent cinema in Egypt, 1896–1932.

Ayman Yossri Daydban | June-July 2017

This residency was in conjunction with the AANM exhibition Epicenter X: Saudi Contemporary Art in Dearborn, MI, the first exhibition of its kind from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to appear in Michigan. 

Ayman Yossri Daydban contributed three works to Epicenter X from his Subtitles series, comprising subtitled film stills reproduced through different mediums. This series emerged from a moment of personal crisis, where Ayman locked himself away and watched films for months on end alone. A non-English speaker, the experience was mediated through subtitles, and although intended as a tool of direct and literal translation, a surreal dissonance manifested. As his immersion in the films consumed him, he increasingly felt the subtitles become unmoored from the image. A gap formed, and the fragments became a productive space for the creation of meaning. Removed from its narrative, each still is transformed; what emerges creatively in the gap between still and text cannot be condemned by the censor nor understood by the audience, but it unleashes a host of powerful new meanings.

Ayman engaged in a live discussion on his work during a community program in conjunction with the opening of Epicenter X and in partnership with CULTURUNNERS

Throughout the course of his residency Ayman also worked on a series of interventions, entailing extreme censorship, on rare and original Arab film posters, informed by the work of cinema historian Mahmoud Qasim on film poster censorship in the Arab world. He used diverse materials and methods to censor objects in the posters, changing their meanings and form to such a degree as to render them ineffectual. These manipulated posters were displayed in the Museum’s Second Floor Atrium.

Watch a video on Ayman Daydban’s residency and involvement with Epicenter X

Ayman Yossri Daydban was born in Palestine with Jordanian nationality, and now lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His multidisciplinary practice evolves around the deconstruction of various national narratives with the approach of a watchman or guard. This term translates into English from the artist’s Arabic last name, and mirrors his approach to questions about existence, identity and belonging relating to cultural heritage, national integration, the East/West global melting pot of influence and inter-dependence and the difficulties in assimilation and translation of divergent customs and traditions. Daydban has had numerous solo exhibitions, including Give Me The Light, Jeddah (2016), Common Grounds, Madrid (2014), I am Anything, I am Everything, Jeddah (2012) and Identity, London (2011). He launched his first public art project Change on billboards across Dubai and Sharjah during Art Dubai (2013). Daydban is part of the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, Centre Pompidou, British Museum, Al-Mansouria Foundation, the Abdul Latif Jameel Foundation, BASMOCA, the Salsali Private Museum in Dubai and the Greenbox Museum in Amsterdam. 

Heather Raffo | Oct. 2016

This residency was made possible in part by the National Performance Network (NPN) of which AANM is partner.

In this residency, Heather Raffo developed her theatrical work Noura, a re-imagining of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that examines the story of an Iraqi refugee family in New York, highlighting an acutely relevant awakening of identity that tackles the notions of shame, violence, assimilation, exile and love.

This play comes from over three years of Heather’s research in the Middle Eastern American communities in New York City, working with Middle Eastern women on both the telling of their stories and the re-imagining of the many Nouras in their personal lives. This time in Dearborn allowed to her to further conduct research within the local Arab American community and workshop the play, meeting with local artists and community members through various dinners and events, as well as spending considerable time with local Chaldean nuns to hear their stories. Heather expressed that this residency happened at exactly the right place and time to help morph Noura into what it needs to be.

A staged reading of Nouradirected by Joanna Settle and starring Heather Raffo—was performed at AANM, presented in conjunction with AANM’s What We Carried: Fragments & Memories From Iraq & Syria exhibition, which showcases the personal objects carried by immigrants and refugees and their stories. The performance was preceded by an open mic reading and followed by an audience talkback with discussion and feedback on the work.

In collaboration with Detroit’s Matrix Theatre Company, Heather gave a theatrical storytelling workshop at the Museum titled Places of Pilgrimage: Identity & Belonging in America. She also engaged in a talk and dialogue with a group of over 100 theatre students on a visit to Edsel Ford High School.

Heather Raffo is an award-winning Iraqi American playwright and performer. She is the solo performer and writer of the Off Broadway hit, 9 Parts of Desire which details the lives of nine Iraqi women. For her creation and performance of 9 Parts and its national and international tour, Heather garnered many awards including a Lucille Lortel Award, and the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn and Marian Seldes-Garson Kanin playwriting awards, as well as Helen Hayes, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nominations, for outstanding performance. She has taught and performed at dozens of universities and arts centers both in the United States and internationally, engaging students about the politics and arts of Iraq and about her own experience as an Iraqi American playwright and actress. Raffo received her BA in English from the University of Michigan and her MFA in acting performance from the University of San Diego. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. Originally from Michigan, Raffo currently lives in New York.

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