Home TMU News Unveiled: A Creative Program Showcasing Muslim Women Beyond the Veil

Unveiled: A Creative Program Showcasing Muslim Women Beyond the Veil

“If you don’t see the things you are looking for in the world, you can create them”

by Sania Ali
Poster of 6 artists and one curator. Yearbook book style poster featuring 7 women, each woman has their first name directly under their photo. With the words "Class of Unveiled" on the bottom left.
The 2024 class of Unveiled. (Photo courtesy Nawal Ahmed)

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“Every space I was interested in whether it was a creative event or not, I never saw anyone who looked like me,” says Wishah Qaisar, graphic designer for make-up brand NudeStix. “Everywhere I go I asked, ‘Where are all the Muslim people in arts? Where are all the Pakistani people in arts?’” 

Qaisar saw the lack of diversity not as a hindrance, but as a challenge and created the Unveiled art program to build “a safe space for Muslim women.” Unveiled had their official art exhibit on March 3 in an event called “Unveiled: The Graduation.”

The exhibit featured the works of artists Iman Yousuf, Rayaan Mohamed, Amina Hemed, Nadia Khalifa, Nawal Ahmed, and Rahima Hussein. Although the women created their individual works of art, Qaisar shared that the expressions were so in sync with each other, that it looked as though the art was created by one person. 

The program was funded through Shoot for Peace, a youth-led organization created by Yasin Osman and is described with a mission to deliver high-quality community programming to underserved youth, specifically the program was funded through their community impact program. Shoot for Peace’s community impact program provides ambitious youth with a $5,000 investment in their art-based program on the basis that it will serve the community and provides knowledge and resources to help the individual complete their project.

With a mission and a dream to allow Muslim women to represent themselves in a versatile manner artistically, Qaisar applied.

Qaisar says she wanted this project to be a reflection of the versatility Muslim women had to offer, so she put out a call-out on her social media. She called on Muslim women who were interested in joining a creative program and emphasized that there was no need for prior experience, just passion and commitment to attend the Unveiled workshops. 

Initially, the program started with ten to fifteen girls, but with exam season and life getting in the way, the program was left with six committed artists.

One of these artists, Amina Hemed, says she joined the program in hopes of using her photography to express her interests and faith. 

Photo of hands holding basketball. Hands have gold south asian jewlery on and is wearing gold south asian clothes.
Hemed’s work highlights the merging of culture and sports. (Photo courtesy of Amina Hemed)

Hemed’s project, “Diversity in Sports” features the intersectionality of culture, faith and sports all expressed through photography. Hemed photographed some of the other girls in the Unveiled program and featured them in their cultural clothes, holding a basketball or playing football. Another artist in the program took inspiration from these photos to cultivate her art piece, a framed Lakers jersey surrounded by Hemed’s printed photos and flowers. 

Although Hemed is an Early Childhood Educator, her love for photography clung to her from a young age. She started taking photos of friends and family and soon pursued her love for portrait photography. 

“Wishah creating a program like this helps push people out of their comfort zone and join these creative spaces,” says Hemed. “There are so many women and girls who want to get into the creative program but there are barriers that stop them from being accepted in programs that don’t have people like them.” 

Wishah’s goal was to push the women to ask questions that challenged their self-identity such as “Who are Muslim women? What does society think of us? What is your purpose?”

Although at first, not everyone found it easy to share ideas and be vulnerable with the group, Hemed said it became easier as time went on. 

“It was an amazing way for everyone to get to know each other’s creative passions more when it comes to the day to put it to life, it was amazing to see. I think there’s a strong sense of unity in programs like this,” Hemed said. 

As for the future of Unveiled, Hemed says that she hopes the program continues so that she can share her love for photography with other women too. Qaisar sees the need for a program like this, and the potential for it to grow into something big like “Soho House” and she’s excited to see where Unveiled takes her. 

“That’s what this exhibit was all about. You can literally do whatever you want, just because you wear hijab, just because you’re Muslim. If you don’t see the things that you’re looking for in the world, you can create them.” 

This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

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