Kaleidoscope Fest 2016 – 3D Light and Art Show. NorthVan Lolo Shipyard, Evenings Sept 2 – 4th.

Check out the inaugural 3D Light and Art show this Labour Day weekend at Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver. Admission is Free and Everyone is welcome!

Proceeds benefit the Lionsgate Hospital HOpe Centre, providing Mental Health care

Featured Artist: Taslim Samji (yay!)

See you #KFest16

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An Evening with Vandana Shiva – Ecofeminist, Visionary, Author of Anti-globalization and anti-GMO books.

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

As part of the 2016 Indian Summer festival in Vancouver, this past Thursday I attended An Evening with Vandana Shiva at St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church. Dr. David Suzuki was also present for the talk, that was followed by a … Continue reading

Hello Kitty Airline, Bali to Taiwan – Review by TSamji

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Recently I travelled on the Hello Kitty Airline, also known as Eva Air (Taiwan Airline) from Taiwan to Bali  (return). I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised.

As a kid I was familiar with Hello Kitty and knew the kitty was a big deal in Japan. The fact is the Hello Kitty market has expanded internationally and has broadened to an adult market with Hello Kitty Laptops, high-end jewelry and other consumer products.

Several years ago a friend of mine, that I had met working in a past career, invited me to her home while she was on maternity leave, after the arrival of her first baby. I knew she was a Hello Kitty fan from the little Hello Kitty figure that sat on her desk, her Hello Kitty key chain, and the Hello Kitty stuffy displayed in the rearview window of her Mercedes, but I had no idea the extent of the infatuation.

During the visit to her home she offered me a tour. The living room only had a Hello Kitty stuffy or two, so the obsession was still well hidden, until I entered the master bedroom. I was shocked to see an army of Hello Kitty stuff dolls on the bed, neatly displayed just as you may see dozens of little pillows decorate a display bed at Bed, Bath and Beyond or Urban Barn. Furthermore, the comforter was Hello Kitty signature pink with a huge image of the kitty on top. The top of her dresser held several Hello Kitty stuff dolls, as well as a giant kitty in the corner. 

As I processed the information presented to me, I turned to her husband and asked casually, half jokingly “Are you okay with this?”

He looked at me with a sigh and said, “Do you think I have a choice?”

I thought of this story as I boarded my first Hello Kitty flight. I thought the idea of a Hello Kitty plane was interesting to put it politely, but to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it very much. On the return flight I made sure I took tons of pictures to share with you all.

The kitty is welcoming and I found the pink and yellow colours soothing and happy, so different from the dark, neutral bore I have come to expect on other airlines. I wished that the airline safety video incorporated the white kitty, but it did not.

From the utensils, snacks, pillow, headrest, to the toilet paper in the bathroom, you find the Hello Kitty image. Wherever possible to incorporate the kitty, it was done. I kinda loved it. I am not a Hello Kitty fan, so can only imagine what this experience would be like for a true Hello Kitty fan.

Enjoy the short video and share if you like!

Peace and happy trails…TSamji      

 

The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto offers a New Perspective in Islamic Civilizations that Connect us All Together

This past summer I had the opportunity to visit the Aga Khan Museum (AKM) in Toronto, Canada. This was a special treat for me as much of my art programming for 2015 was created around the mission statement of the Aga Khan Museum.

The AKM opened in September of 2014 with the intention “to offer unique insights and new perspectives into Islamic civilizations” and show how various cultures and civilizations have come together in the past, connecting us together. The museum is also a centre of learning and will hopefully serve as a strong “catalyst for mutual understanding and tolerance”.

I believe we all have a responsibility to serve as a “catalyst for mutual understanding and tolerance”.  In simple steps as getting to know the diversity that exists within your community is a great place to start. The moment we begin to assume that diversity is not necessary, natural or relevant, we begin to accept generalizations and assumptions into the mainstream.

The permanent collection of the AKM is incredible with artifacts dating back to the 8th century, and are from an expansive region that spans from Spain to Southeast Asia. Pieces range from “manuscripts, drawings, paintings, decorated ceramics, metalwork, and architectural ornamentation. The works provide an insight into the history of Muslim civilizations and visitors from all over the globe, have been inspired by the arts of Muslim civilizations.

When you view the facility itself the messaging is quite powerful. The building is impressive, modern with clean lines. Once in the facility you will see a courtyard in the middle of the space and the museum is built around it. There is no exiting the building from the courtyard, even though you are technically outside with the sky above you. This design was intentional with a spiritual significance. Fumihiko Maki, a world renowned architect born in Tokyo Japan, did an exceptional job with this building. In many ways it draws you out of your environment, and brings you to a space of enlightenment and learning.

As I moved through the exhibition I was at times emotional. For the first time I felt connected to my University education. I studied Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, focusing on the history and politics of India and surrounding countries, as well as world religions. It was incredible for me to see the artifacts, evidence of the past. Being so close to the artifacts brings the rich history of India and Islam to life.

I was impressed by the pages of the Quran on display, the different scripts, styles of embellishments, the quality of paper, skins, materials used to record the words of the sacred teachings. I am not able to read the script, but they looked as though they were made with love and respect.

Just across from the pages of the Quran, you see a map displayed on the wall with little lights to show where Muslims have settled across the globe. For many centuries Muslims have lived in relative piece all over the globe and they not only settled into their new environments, but continue to contribute to the betterment of the communities they live in, and have also adopted the values and the lifestyle of diverse cultural influences. This has added to the richness of the diversity that exists within the global Muslim community.

There is no single way to describe what a Muslim looks like. They look like me, and you as well. They share my Canadian values, and yours too.

What unites all Muslims, unites us all. We are a brotherhood and sisterhood that makes up humanity, a faith of peace and tolerance. Period.

Thank you for reading! Peace and good wishes, TSamji

 

Discussion on Women’s Issues at the US Consulate General’s Residence, Vancouver

Last Tuesday evening I was invited to the US Consulate General Lynne Platt’s residence, located just off South Granville in Vancouver, for the film screening and discussion of the Voices of America documentary ‘A Single Step: Journey of Women Leaders’.

I was honoured to be in the mix of some very acclaimed women.  This was an intimate gathering of approximately 30 local women for Women’s History Month.

After the screening of the film, there was an hour allocated for dialogue. The discussion portion was conducted theatre style, and led by a mediator, with a supporting panel. An hour is not enough time to dig into any topics explicitly, but I believe the intention of the event was to network, and maybe inspire.

I appreciated the comments of the attendees and the deserving panel, however I felt the discussion lacked connection. The comments were not building on each other, although a range of strong comments were presented. Such engagements are a step in the right direction, and the perceptions of others are always enlightening IF we listen.

If a perspective is different from my own, for me that exposure is education. I have been invited to several presentations regarding women’s issues, following discussion sessions, and from my observations, I think women (overall) need to communicate better with one another, for better collaboration opportunities.

As mentioned an hour does not leave much time to dig into anything, but a significant portion of the discussion time focused on the topic of violence against women. A comment referenced the physical and sexual violence women currently face in the Syrian refugee camps; I expanded on this mentioning that sexual violence is a global issue, and is also a huge issue in Canada.

The follow up comment made to my response was that “at least now orientation at Universities include guidelines around sexual consent”.  I quietly digested this comment. If we need to have that conversation at the University level, then we have failed our society and that generation clearly. Lasting change starts with early education and how we raise our children. We need to invest in such education if we are hoping to alter the course of our future.

Before I move on to another point of the discussion, consider the following question:

Why do we look at other parts of the world that are war struck or culturally different, and assume that the issue of sexual and physical violence is worse there?  

We spent much time listing the gender discrepancies in income earning, representation in various professional fields, biases in corporate culture, and the role women play to reinforce these biases, and so forth. The debated question was whether women have made progress since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Women have made huge strides in some areas and not so much in others.

Valuable time was spent listing the areas where women struggle, with no input on how to move past the challenges, or how the panel members have been successful in their efforts. The women in the documentary did not let challenges stop them, they proceeded with creative approaches.

Towards the end of the session, a lady in the front row commented that the dialogue thus far was uninspiring, and she hoped that the conversation could turn into something hopeful so that she would have something positive to take with her. I think as women in leadership roles we must bring the inspiration to others and not look for others to present it. If we do not like how a conversation is going, we have the ability to change it and make it more enriching. Why is it that when given the chance to empower each other in a safe environment, in many circumstances this too is a challenge for many women?

On a final note, of course I could not hold it in anymore; with only minutes left to conclude the gathering, I managed to get a final comment in. “I think that the biggest changes and revolutions start at the grassroots. Every woman in this room has a voice and an opportunity for positive impact. Women Care but can also take Charge. If something truly matters to you then you can find a way to advance it and create pockets of positive momentum. No excuses. The women in the documentary found a way and are clear examples for us in our journey.”

Thank you to Lynne Platt and her team for creating this opportunity for exchange and sharing. The more we talk about Women’s issues, the better we will get at directing the conversation for more productive outcomes and collaborative opportunities. The reality is that women’s rights and issues are human rights and issues.

Thank you for reading! Peace and good wishes, TSamji

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I am one Muslim of many, running a Campaign of Love

Fallen Star by TSamji
I am a Muslim and I would like the world to know that at this very moment, as you read this text, I am sending Donald Trump some love. I do not know what to say about the recent New Hampshire win for Trump, but it certainly has made me think. I do believe that Trump is actually convinced that what he is doing is right for Americans, speaking honestly even if what he is saying is misguided and of course insulting to Muslim Americans, and all Muslims for that matter.
 
If past politicians had faced the difficult issues plaguing us today regarding race, creed and discrimination when they had the chance, would the cup still be overflowing with fear and hate as it is today? To blame politicians is unfair; it’s people who fuel such momentum. Trump would not be so popular if a significant portion of the American people did not actually feel this way. Trump has a dexterity for seeing what already exists and is capitalizing on such fears; this momentum has been building for decades.
 
Perhaps it’s time we all look in the mirror and ask ourselves how have we (as individuals of a collective society) contributed to this problem that is now tormenting our globe?
 
Do we hold our government officials accountable for their decisions? Do we see corruption, injustices, unfairness, unethical practices and turn our heads away or pretend that we are innocent and live in our own independent existences? Is looking for blame more important than planting seeds of positive momentum?
 
Has the media played a role in exacerbating the strength of a minority group of radical extremists? Do we as a society question our media outlets, demand honesty and fairness in reporting current affairs or just plug in and encourage the manipulative, bias messaging to continue?
 
Do we make a point to understand the multicultural environment we live in by getting to know our colleagues, neighbours, communities? What available education or resources support social harmony as a priority moving forward? Mr. Trump I don’t believe this to be a “Muslim problem” but a global problem. It breaks my heart to hear of the horrific events that keep unfolding everyday across the oceans, causing misery to good and decent people, including Muslims. We are all effected by this indecency and this is an issue between extremism and humanity.
 
Consider how much diversity there is within the Christian faith, well there is that much within the Global Muslim community as well. Do Conservative or Radical Christian beliefs represent all the followers of Christ? Nor does Radical interpretations of Islam. Mine is a faith of love, tolerance, forgiveness, peace, a continuing education, a journey of service for the betterment of mankind.
 
Quotes from the holy prophet:
“Allah will not give mercy to anyone, except those
who give mercy to other creatures.” prophet Muhammad [pbuh]
 
“Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind
has no faith.” prophet Muhammad [pbuh]
 
“The best of you are those who are best to the
women.” prophet Muhammad [pbuh]
 
“I command you to treat women kindly” prophet Muhammad [pbuh]
 
“The greatest enemies of God are those who are entered into Islam, and do acts of infidelity, and who, without cause, shed the blood of men.” Prophet Muhammad [pbuh]
 
In this world where we all exist together through quantum entanglement, there is definitely much hurt, our earth is in pain, and still (I believe) hope flows in all directions. Everyday I am surrounded by amazing people of all creeds, raising their families with the best intentions, I can see beauty and good from all directions evidence that hope flows. When our faith is challenged by those that are not necessarily bad people, but those who are governed by fear, my answer is love. Mr. Trump, I send you love so that you can make better decisions for the greater good of the American people. I don’t claim to know all the rules of the universe or how this is all suppose to unfold, but I trust in love.
 
God bless all of humanity and Mr. Trump too!
With love and hope, TSamji

Women in Art by Taslim Samji, published in the Spotlight in the Arts Magazine, January 2016

This short article looks at the historic contribution women have made to the Art world, comparing and relating the role of women in Western Art history, to that of the Eastern world, specifically the Muslim sphere of influence.

Published January 2016 in the Spotlight in the Arts Magazine, produced and distributed by the Surrey Arts Council, BC.

Have a read…

WomenInArtbyTSamji2016

Click link below for full pdf view:

Women in Art Article by TSamji Hotspot Mag 2016

 

 

 

Clip of Commonality Exhibition by Curator TSamji

Commonality, An Exploration of Pluralism Visual Art Exhibition, now until January 30th, 2016 at the Newton Cultural Centre Gallery, Surrey, BC. 9 Artists have come together, 7 of which are from the local Ismaili Muslim community. This exhibition was inspired by the fact that Canada is home to several large cultural groups, many of whom are immigrants or first generation. It is important that we make an effort to learn more about the diversity that exists in this amazing country we live in, in order to avoid cultural generalizations. As individuals we are all unique and as a society, we need to make more of an effort to connect with each other; as we learn about our individual differences, we will also learn more about the commonalities that connect us.

 

Interview of Curator Taslim Samji by Sonia Andhi for Odyssey: Past Meets Present

This past Fall I curated an art exhibition that showcased the work of 14 Ismaili Muslim artists at the Roundhouse Community Centre, Vancouver (Yaletown). The exhibition explored Pluralism and the commonality found within Diversity. I had the please to meet Sonia Andhi from Hamaara Andaaz (which airs on JoyTV) and we had a very insightful conversation. This is the art segment for the first episode of Hamaara Andaaz for 2016. Great way to start the new year! Check out part 1 and thank you for visiting…:)

Ismaili Muslim artists draw on the past and present

Ismailimail

Ismaili Muslim artists draw on the past and presentSandra Zimmermann Issue 10 – November 24–December 8, 2015: Creating art as a vehicle for communication to help transcend boundaries is the focus of the contemporary art exhibition presented by local Ismaili Muslim artists in Yaletown’s Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (Nov. 23–Dec. 1). The show, Odyssey: Past Meets Present, features 15 artists who explore, in their art works, how their past influences their present. While they are all local artists, they have diverse backgrounds and roots in countries like Uganda, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Switzerland.

“I asked the artists to look into their past and find out what influences them today and how that shows up in their art work,” says Taslim Samji, the exhibition’s curator.

Source: Ismaili Muslim artists draw on the past and present | The Source | Volume 16, Issue 10 – November 24–December 8, 2015

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