Drawing in the Diaspora: Comic Art & Graphic Novels by Leila Abdelrazaq

Image: Detail from Abdelrazaq’s graphic novel Baddawi

November 12, 2016 – April 19, 2017
Lower Level Gallery


Leila Abdelrazaq’s comics and illustration fuse art and activism. Her experiences as the daughter of a Palestinian refugee have informed her work throughout her artistic career, shaping her subject matter and storytelling. The exhibition includes original illustrations from her zines and comics, including her debut graphic novel Baddawi, her father’s coming-of-age journey in a refugee camp, and her short comic Mariposa Road, which ties the struggles of undocumented immigrants with the imprecise nature of Palestinian citizenship. Her other works focus on political movements in Chicago and nationally, from the fight to free Rasmea Odeh to the #Arabs4BlackPower network.

This exhibition features a variety of excerpts and original illustrations from Abdelrazaq’s books, zines and activist work, including behind the scenes process drafts of Baddawi; as well as an original 8×10 ft. hand-painted mural created just for this exhibition.


Leila Abdelrazaq is a Chicago-born Palestinian author and artist. Her debut graphic novel, Baddawi, was shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards. Her creative work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory and borders. Abdelrazaq has been involved in both national and local community organizing around the issue of Palestine since 2011. She graduated from DePaul University in 2015 with a B.FA. in Theatre Arts and a B.A. in Arabic Studies. In 2015, she was a participant in the Palestine Festival of Literature. Her work has been featured in World War 3 IllustratedVICE Magazine, The Electronic Intifada, and PEN America’s The Illustrated PEN, among others. She has spoken on programs such as Uprising with Sonali and WBEZ 91.5 (Chicago Public Radio) and has also given workshops and talks in classrooms, universities and conferences around the world, from the American University of Beirut’s Symposium on Arabic Comics to appearing at the first-ever ComiqueCon at AANM in 2015. To read more about Abdelrazaq and view her artwork visit www.lalaleila.com


Made possible in part by

  • November 12, 2016 - April 19, 2017