Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 22, 2013 Dallas

Dallas Anatole Hilton Hotel
With this post I wanted to mark the historic anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination here in Dallas. Most of us who grew up with the televised memories would find it interesting to be living in the metropolitan area where it happened 50 years later. The event marked the beginning of the end of a wonderful childhood naivete, and a belief that beauty and fairness could win out over treachery.

Local reflective memorials have been positive, with countless arts organizations marking the anniversary with fascinating exhibits and concerts. An overall theme seems to be how much Dallas has changed, and one thread is how much more ethnically diverse it has become.

I experienced the rich diversity from my perspective at an art education conference that week-end at the Anatole Hilton Hotel in Dallas. It houses an amazing collection of Asian Art, and is a favorite place for celebrations of eastern immigrants, from the Mid-East to India to Japan.  On the evening of  Nov. 22,  in one ballroom there was an awards ceremony and dance concert for Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians, with hundreds in attendance.  In a second ballroom there was an Indian wedding, with women in beautiful traditional dress, dancing in a similar style. The waiter at the sushi bar where I was eating  said the Anatole is a favorite venue for Indian weddings, and the massive regal elephant sculptures gracing the lobby seemed to reflect that.

 Sculptural Sphere, by Fahad Aljebreen
 It struck me that one of the most interesting parts of my education in North Texas has been the cultural diversity I have experienced.  I have presented with a colleague from Saudi Arabia, Fahad Aljebreen, on Place-based art. His  perspective is when you live in a desert, sand is the logical creative medium of choice! His sand, paper and glue spherical sculptures are beautiful and poetic. His dissertation research is about  the  American concepts about the veil and the freedom to wear the veil or not. He is pictured with his wife below.

Fahad and Alya Aljebreen

I also have met some amazing students.  Aysheh is a wonderful young American who is studying elementary education at the University of North Texas. Her defiant looking self-portrait I believe represents her pride and self-empowering stance as a young Muslim woman.  Her paternal grandfather was a farmer in Palestine, until his land was re-distributed under Israeli orders. She is the most globally informed college student I have met. I got to know her well when she volunteered for a semester to work with  Earl and I at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in Denton in an Integrated Arts Club (See Oct. 9 post).

Self-Portrait -Aysheh Kadar
 The rich mix of people in Dallas and Denton, Texas  have much to share and offer an amazing opportunity to  understand today's culturally diverse world.  By taking part as an art educator I am able to see its richness, and I invite your comments and suggestions on ways you connect across cultures where ever you are.

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