Alia Bensliman (born Tunis, Tunisia) and Khalilah Sabree (born Macon, GA) deliberately disrupt conventional divides between tradition and modernity and the sacred and the secular. As Muslim-American artists and educators deeply rooted in the Trenton community, their imagery grapples with human rights struggles and the challenges of cultural belonging. Bensliman’s images of Amazigh women focus on the Indigenous population of North Africa in richly patterned watercolors informed by local artistic motifs, with her own triple portrait as an introspective counterpoint. Sabree’s painting suite turns a photograph taken during Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, into a meditation on loss and the devastations of war. Seen together, the artists’ works testify to seemingly incompatible commitments: preserving cultural traditions that are under threat while forging visual vocabularies that resonate with their own unfolding identities. Through their experiments with technique and composition, the artists create visual repetitions that function as prayerful recitations, retelling time-honored stories from the depths of personal and spiritual experience.
Art@Bainbridge | Reciting Women: Alia Bensliman & Khalilah Sabree
Art@Bainbridge is made possible through the generous support of the Virginia and Bagley Wright, Class of 1946, Program Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art; the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Program Fund for American Art; Joshua R. Slocum, Class of 1998, and Sara Slocum; Rachelle Belfer Malkin, Class of 1986, and Anthony E. Malkin; Barbara and Gerald Essig; Gene Locks, Class of 1959, and Sueyun Locks; and Ivy Beth Lewis. Additional support for this exhibition is provided by the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Office of Religious Life, and the Department of Religion.