DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts

Thursday, March 26 through Sunday, March 29

DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts
is a biennial program of the Arab American National Museum (AANM). DIWAN unites Arab American artists, scholars and performers representing myriad academic fields and artistic genres for a weekend dialogue that reinforces the AANM's commitment to providing a place for community members and artists to meet, exchange ideas and exhibit their work. DIWAN also encourages audiences to expore the boundaries of art in addressing social issues related to Arab Americans and the community at large.

The AANM convenes its third DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts Thursday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. with a Global Thursdays performance by writer/actor Suheir Hammad, star of director Annemarie Jacir’s film Salt of This Sea, Palestine’s submission for 2009 Academy Award consideration.

DIWAN continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 27-29 at the AANM with panel discussions, a lively open-mic session, meals and fellowship. Among the featured weekend performers are dancing drummer Karim Nagi and performance artist Najla Said, the daughter of noted Arab American scholar Edward Said.

Among the topics being examined at the 2009 DIWAN are:
  • the use of comedy in combating Arab stereotypes
  • how Arab American artists address war as subject matter
  • the cross-cultural experiences of today’s “digital youth”
  • how Arab ethnicity affects artists and their work
  • the challenges and rewards of presenting Arab arts to the public
To view the schedule, scroll down or download the brochure HERE (schedule/biographies).

The 2009 DIWAN is dedicated to the memory of the Palestinian poet, author and activist Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008). Click HERE to read more about Darwish.

Who should attend DIWAN? Anyone with a personal or professional interest in Arab American arts, culture and history, including students, educators at all levels, artists in all disciplines and adventurous arts aficionados. Is it just for Arab Americans? No – all are welcome.

DIWAN Registration

The registration fee for DIWAN is $25 for single-day attendance and $65 for Friday through Sunday ($55 for Museum Members).

A special individual Museum Membership rate of just $15 (regularly $35) is available to DIWAN participants; check the appropriate box on the registration form to become a Member and get the reduced DIWAN registration fee.

Included in the fee are lunch, dinner and live performances Friday and Saturday** and breakfast on Sunday. Parking is free in the municipal lot adjacent to the Museum.

Students of any age with a current school ID may take advantage of a special registration rate of just $15 covering events and meals Friday through Sunday, March 27-29.

For a printable registration form, click HERE (registration form). Advance registration is recommended but not required.

Complete the form and return with payment to:

DIWAN, Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48126

The Thursday, March 26 Global Thursdays performance by Suheir Hammad is not included in registration fees; tickets are $8 in advance online only at www.arabamericanmuseum.org and $10 at the door.

For further information, call 313.624.0219 or email diwan@accesscommunity.org.

DIWAN Accommodations

The AANM recommends:

DoubleTree Hotel Dearborn
5801 Southfield Service Drive, Detroit

A special rate of $104/night is available to DIWAN participants who book before March 12.

DIWAN Credits

The AANM gratefully acknowledges members of the 2009 DIWAN planning committee:

Alise Alousi, InsideOut Literary Arts Project
Holly Arida, Cranbrook Educational Community
Lynn Blasey, College for Creative Studies
Adnan Charara, Artist
Annie Higgins, Wayne State University
Mike Mosallam, Writer/Actor/Director/Producer
Kevin Rashid, Wayne State University

From the AANM: Thomas Abowd, Devon Akmon, Anan Ameri, Suzy Mazloum, Celine Taminian and DIWAN co-chairs Lama Mansour and Jumana Salamey

DIWAN receives generous support from Ford Foundation and Nathan Cummings Foundation.

2009 DIWAN Schedule

Thursday 3.26.09

7:30 p.m.
Performance by Suheir Hammad
A Palestinian American poet, author and political activist, Hammad has won numerous awards including NYU’s 2001 Emerging Artists Award and a 2003 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event for her work as an original cast member and writer for Russell Simmons Presents Def Jam Poetry on Broadway.

Presented in collaboration with InsideOut Literary Arts Project and Springfed Arts

Friday 3.27.09

9:30 a.m.
Opening Remarks
Anan Ameri PhD, Director, Arab American National Museum and Suheir Hammad, Artist/Activist/Poet

10 a.m.-noon
Close Encounters: Getting the Audience for Arab American Art On Board
Various ways to effectively engage audiences for Arab American art

Wafaa Bilal, New Media Artist and Assistant Arts Professor, Tisch School of the Arts, New York NY: Domestic Tension: Dynamic Encounter

Mohannad Ghawanmeh, Senior Instructor, Arts & Sciences Department, Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis MN: A Picture is Worth More Than a Thousand Words, Especially an Animated One

Remi Kanazi, Palestinian American Poet/Writer/Editor/Actor, Astoria NY: Art as Empowerment

Moderator: Devon Akmon, Curator of Community History, Arab American National Museum, Dearborn MI

Noon-1 p.m.

1-3 p.m.
What is Arab Art and What is it For?
New ways of thinking about the utility, meaning and form of Arab American art

Karim Nagi, Teacher and Performer of Arab Music and Dance, Boston MA/Cairo, Egypt: LAUREN of ARABIA: The Americanization of Arab Dance in America

Hassan Sassi, Senior Structural and Earthquake Engineer, URS Corp., Los Angeles CA: Art of Structural Engineering

Scott Zuniga, Film and Music Video Director, Austin TX: Digital Youth: A Cross-Cultural Generation

Moderator: Annie Higgins PhD, Assistant Professor of Arabic Language and Literature, Wayne State University, Detroit MI

3-3:30 p.m.


3:30-5:30 p.m.

Art vs. Art
Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese artists use their mediums to deal with war

Rijin Sahakian, Graduate Student, New York University, New York NY: Trauma and Creative Practice in Iraq

Joe Namy, Conceptual Artist and Activist, New York NY: Strange Fruit

Helen Zughaib, Visual Artist, Washington, D.C.: Women’s Art, Women’s Vision: A Month in the West Bank as an Artist and U.S. Cultural Envoy

Moderator: Kevin Rashid, Poet and University Curriculum and Research Coordinator, Honors College, Wayne State University, Detroit MI

7:30-8:30 p.m.

8:30-10:30 p.m.
Open Mic Night
Show us what you’ve got! All DIWAN participants are invited to share a poem, song, dance or other performance art with their enthusiastic and appreciative peers.

Saturday 3.28.09

10 a.m.-noon
Out of Place: How Arab American Art Helps Us Find Our Way Home
Navigating hybrid identities and conceptualizing homeland

Fayeq Oweis PhD, Artist/Educator/Community Activist, San Francisco CA: Visual Narratives of Palestinian Diaspora: The Mural of Edward Said

Aseel Sawalha, Professor of Anthropology, Pace University, Brooklyn NY: Being an Arab, a Woman and an Artist in New York: Then and Now

Happy/L.A. Hyder, Fine Artist in Color Photography, San Francisco CA: Being Artist. Being Aware. Being Arab American.

Moderator: Thomas Abowd PhD, Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University, Detroit MI and researcher, Arab American National Museum

Noon-1 p.m.

1-3 p.m.

From Beirut Hills to MUSLIM: The Musical!: What’s So Funny About Arab Americans?
Using comedy to battle Arab stereotypes

Alia Tarraf, Woodside NY and Tamar Vezirian, New York NY, Comediennes: Beirut Hills and Beyond!

Negin Farsad, Comedic Performer, New York NY: How to Make White People Laugh

Mike Mosallam, Writer/Actor/Director/Producer, Dearborn MI: MUSLIM: The Musical!

Moderator: Kim Silarski, Communications, Arab American National Museum, Dearborn MI

3-3:30 p.m.


3:30-5:30 p.m.

Presenters of Arab Culture in the United States: Local and National Perspectives
Issues, challenges and strategies in presenting Arab cultural expression

Debbie Smith, Cultural Events Coordinator, Arab Cultural and Community Center, San Francisco CA: Curating Arab Culture in a Non-Arab Cultural Landscape: The Presenter’s Role

Nicole Macotsis, Folk Arts Associate, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn NY: Beyond Brooklyn Maqam: Reflections on Presenting Local Arab Music Traditions in Brooklyn

Ralph Valdez, Curator of Cultural Programming, Arab American National Museum, Dearborn MI: Education Through Entertainment: The Importance of Arab Culture in the U.S.

Leili Kashani, Director of Operations, Alwan for the Arts, New York NY: The Integration of Arts, Culture, Scholarship and Politics into an Organic Whole

Moderator: Ismael Ahmed, Prominent Activist/Music Promoter/Director, Michigan Department of Human Services, Dearborn MI

7:30-8:30 p.m.

8:30-10:30 p.m.

Live Performances

Najla Said, Actress/Comedienne/Writer, New York NY: PALESTINE!

Karim Nagi, Teacher and Performer of Arab Music and Dance, Boston MA/Cairo, Egypt: Sounds That Dance & Dances That Make Sound

Mizna Entertainment’s Arab American Comedy Showcase
Sketch comedy and a short video, NEXTED, directed by Mike Eshaq and starring Ali "Bulldog" Abdallah

Sunday 3.29.09

9:30-10:15 a.m.


10:30 a.m.-noon
The Long and Winding Road: Multiple Views of Arab American Literature
A closer look at the current state of Arab American memoir and literature.

Adnan Salhi PhD, Writer/Activist, Dearborn MI: Seeing the Past, Identifying the Present, Shaping the Future

Raff Ellis, Freelance Writer, Orlando, FL: Using the Literary Memoir as an Arab American Art Form

Moderator: Alise Alousi, Associate Director, InsideOut Literary Arts Project, Detroit MI

Noon-1 p.m.
Reflections & Closing Remarks
13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48126 - Phone (313) 582-AANM (2266)