February 4, 2016

Ithaca Mural Celebrating Muslim Culture Calls for Design Submissions

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The Al-Huda Islamic Center of the Finger Lakes, the Greater Ithaca Activities Center and the Multicultural Resource Center are currently calling for sketch submissions for a mural celebrating Muslim culture that has been commissioned for the Commons.

The 50 foot by 16 foot mural — which will be painted on the wall leading into the Green Street parking garage near the Cinemapolis movie theater — will celebrate the culture of the approximately 750 Muslims who live in Ithaca, according to Nagiane Lacka Arriaza, the mural’s project coordinator.

“There are murals depicting Native Americans and Latinos [in Ithaca],” Arriaza said. “We’re part of this community, and I believe we should be part of the art scene as well.”

She said she intends for the new mural to make the Muslim community feel more at home in Ithaca, adding that she believes the community is underrepresented in the local art scene.

“I’m looking for the art to actually reflect the people who live here,” Arriaza said.

Arriaza said she hopes the Muslim community will be able to connect to the mural on a personal level.

“It’s really powerful to see yourself in art,” Arriaza said. “It’s kind of like seeing characters on television that look like you or seeing a play about characters that reflect your story.”

The only restriction for the submissions is the exclusion of Arabic quotes of religious text and images of animals or people — which are images considered sacred in Islam — according to Arriaza.

“We purposely made the call for murals and designs really simple because we don’t want to guide the artist, so we’re not expecting anything in particular,” Arriaza said. “I think when people think of Islamic art they typically think of tiling or patterns, but we’re open to anything.”

Both individual artists and groups are welcome to apply. A jury consisting of Muslim community members, members of the City of Ithaca Public Art Commission and select project co-sponsors will award $2,000 to the selected artist. The winning proposal will be announced March 9.