The Arab and Muslim Womens’s Research and Resource Initiative(AMWRRI) presented plans for its “Beyond the Veil: Dress, Identity, and Tradition through the Eyes of Muslim Women” exhibit to the Milwaukee Muslim Community at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee on the evening of April 27th, 2013. The exhibit, which will open in May 2014 at the Milwaukee Public Museum, will display cultural clothing from a range of cultures across the Arab and Muslim worlds, along with descriptions, context, and commentary. Most of the clothing will be loaned by women from Milwaukee-area Arab and Muslim communities, and the displays will incorporate the women’s own descriptions of the meanings and uses of the clothes.
The evening began with a display of Palestinian dancing by Marquette University’s Dabke Troupe. AMWRRI Director Enaya Othman and board member Eugenia Afinoguénova gave a general introduction to the project, followed by presentations by two students from Dr. Othman’s Marquette Arabic class on different aspects of Arab and Muslim cultural clothing, especially as it relates to the experience of immigration to the United States.
A Q&A session ended the formal part of the evening, in which community members engaged AMWRRI board members in dialogue, asking questions and giving suggestions. Afterwards a delicious Middle Eastern meal was served, over which the discussion continued informally.
AMWRRI and MPM hope that the exhibit will expand public understanding of the significance of cultural clothing beyond stereotypes, and give women from these communities an opportunity to speak to the public about their experiences, both in Milwaukee and in the diverse societies from which many of them trace their descent.
The exhibit is supported by a grant to the MPM from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and presented jointly by AMWRRI and the MPM.