City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Presents "LA / Islam Arts Initiative"

Epic Citywide Exhibitions and Public Programs Celebrate Islamic Arts and Culture

Aug 27, 2014, 11:07 ET from City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Launching this September, the Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI) brings together nearly 30 cultural institutions throughout Los Angeles to tell various stories of traditional and contemporary art from multiple Islamic regions and their significant global diasporas. The celebration of Islamic art and culture has been initiated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in partnership with the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Community Foundation, the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and the Barnsdall Park Foundation. For more information, please visit

Debuting in September 2014, LA/IAI is the first-of-its-kind, wide-scale citywide initiative on Islamic arts. Anchoring LA/IAI are two connected exhibitions, Doris Duke's Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art and the DCA-commissioned contemporary art exhibition, Shangri La: Imagined Cities to be held at DCA's Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) at Barnsdall Park. 

"Los Angeles is a global city, and we're proud to showcase Islamic Arts through this citywide initiative," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "The Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative will offer engaging exhibitions and programs that showcase our city's cultural richness and spark dialogue."

Los Angeles' substantial populations from areas with strong Islamic roots make LA a compelling location for this initiative. LA/IAI casts a wide net, being inclusive and welcoming, with art as its central focus. The term "Islamic art" includes work created by non-Muslim artists from Muslim-dominant countries, work by Muslims creating art in non-Muslim dominant countries, and work by artists culturally influenced by Islam. Designed to build a greater understanding of the role of Islamic arts, LA/IAI seeks to stimulate the global conversation in connection to cultural, political, and social issues.

From September through December, DCA is collaborating with nearly 30 partner institutions and community organizations throughout Southern California to present an innovative and inspiring mix of complementary cultural programs. Among them are: The Getty, CalArts, REDCAT, the Goethe-Institut, Japanese American Cultural Community Center, Islah LA, and Discostan which will host video installations, scholarly symposia, films, concerts, theatrical productions, and other activities.

LAMAG is the fifth and final mainland stop on the national tour of a major traveling exhibition chronicling how tobacco heiress Doris Duke came to amass an impressive collection of Islamic artworks from throughout the Islamic world. Doris Duke's Shangri La also showcases how she went on to commission architect Marion Sims Wyeth to build her Shangri La, the five-acre estate in Honolulu to house the collection.

Organized by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Doris Duke's Shangri La was masterminded by curators Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins, who interwove architectural documents and vintage photographs along with more than 60 objects from the collection.

The DCA-commissioned companion exhibition, Shangri La: Imagined Cities, provides a critical juxtaposition to Doris Duke's Shangri La through the presentation of contemporary works that produce a multiplicity of worlds, interpretations, and investigations without ignoring the implications of organizing around particular geographic or religious lines. The exhibition is produced by Baghdad-born Rijin Sahakian, a guest curator selected by DCA for her intimate knowledge of the contemporary art scene and pioneering work in the Middle East.

"Los Angeles is perhaps one of the epicenters of visual constructions regarding Islam and the Middle East, through both its film industry and its large Middle Eastern and Islamic populations," says Ms. Sahakian. "This makes LA a ripe environment to examine these narratives and how they are formed, disseminated, and circulated."

Imagined Cities artists and their respective works will explore these themes through the mediums of video, installation, works on paper, and photography. Artists include: Haig Aivazian, Jananne Al Ani, George Awde, Taysir Batniji, Charles Gaines, Mariam Ghani, Gelare Khoshgozaran, and Adrian Paci.

LA/IAI Project Manager, Amitis Motevalli, combining her experience as an exhibiting contemporary artist with her work in LA's communities as the director of DCA's William Grant Still Arts Center states, "Art is a great vehicle to ignite dialogue and ensure the complex voices of the communities are heard, seen, and experienced. With significant Islamic populations in Asia and Africa and their diasporas, Los Angeles is a compelling location for this multi-faceted initiative."

About the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs

The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) generates and supports high quality arts and cultural experiences for Los Angeles' 4 million residents and 40 million annual visitors. DCA advances the social and economic impact of the arts and ensures access to diverse and enriching cultural activities through: grantmaking, marketing, development, public art, community arts programming, arts education, and building partnerships with artists and arts and cultural organizations in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.

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SOURCE City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs