(CHICAGO, 5/12/10) The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) announced today that vandals defaced an exhibit by Muslim graduate student Anida Yoeu Ali at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
CAIR-Chicago said the exhibit, which addressed racial profiling and the rise of violence and hate directed at Muslims in the post-9/11 era, was vandalized with large caricatures and a word bubble highlighting the text “Kill all Arabs.” To view images of the defaced artwork click here: http://1700percentproject.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/documentation-of-1700-project-iterations/
Ali’s exhibit is part of a larger ongoing series of work, the “1700% Project,” which is a collaborative project that uses art as a form of response to hate crimes.
CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham said: “This act of vandalism is a hate crime and it is clear that bigotry and racism was behind it. This artist was targeted based on her religion. Acts like these promote censorship and are an attack on anyone who believes in freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”
Abraham accompanied the Muslim artist today in a meeting with the deans of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“This is not just an assault on me as an artist, this is an attack on multiple communities to which the work speaks for,” Ali said. She added: “We must work to transform the marks of vandalism and hate into public acts of collective healing and reclamation. This is a call to action to respond as a community.”
There are no suspects in the incident. No other art exhibits displayed at the Sullivan Galleries were vandalized. There are no security cameras inside the gallery.
Ali was on NPR’s Worldview last week discussing the 1700% Project as part of the show’s series on Islamic Reform and identity. Ali’s discussed American Muslims using art as a vehicle for expression and social change.
Dr. Nora Taylor, Department of Art History Graduate Director said: “As a community, we should support personal expressions by students in the context of exhibitions and studio presentations, no matter what political or religious inclination they might project. Anida Yoeu Ali has devoted her life to fighting prejudice and violence. I am saddened that such immature behavior was displayed on the part of those who vandalized her work.”
CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, which has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.