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Islam Contemporary


Islam Contemporary is a multi-dimensional cultural initiative that aims to bring a fresh perspective to contemporary Islamic heritage, life and culture, as well give a chance for the audience to interact with groundbreaking art and culture.

The art exhibit features twenty-four individual artists from around the world, and one artist collective. These artists are international, from countries such as Morocco, Pakistan, Bahrain, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, as well as local artists from the Berkshires, New England and New York, both Muslim and Non Muslim, emerging and established. The exhibit is supplemented by innovative events that will further the conversation such as a screening and discussion with the directors of ‘The Other Half of Tomorrow’, a classical Middle Eastern music concert by Northampton based Al Layaali , and a community Eid Celebration.

This exciting initiative is brought to the Berkshires in partnership with City of Pittsfield and the Whitney Center for the Arts. We would like to thank the West African Research Association at Boston University, the Shahid Tata Family and Manail Anis Ahmed for their generous support to make this initiative possible.

Islam Contemporary Art Show Through August 31st

The exhibit opened on 2nd August, 5 – 8 pm, both at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield and the Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, and runs through August 31st. Gallery Hours are Wednesday – Saturday noon – 5, and by appointment. Call 413-499-9348 for more information.

List of Artists

Media Coverage

The exhibit has received rave reviews. Islam Contemporary was named a Critics’ Pick for the Boston Globe on July 31st, in the Galleries section. The exhibit was also reviewed by numerous media outlets including print and radio.

Special Events

The City of Pittsfield and the Whitney Center for the Arts organized three special events in concert with the exhibit.


Sunday, August 4th, 2PM: Screening of ‘The Other Half of Tomorrow’, and talkback with filmmakers
The Other Half of Tomorrow looks at contemporary women artists, athletes, musicians and change agents in Pakistan. A series of seven linked chapters, the film introduces us to the disparate contexts that make up a complex culture—from a women’s rights’ workshop in a village in rural Punjab, to an underground dance academy in Karachi, to the playing fields of the Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team. The documentary premiered as the opening night presentation of the 2012 Margaret Mead Film Festival. A family collaboration, the film is produced and directed and photographed by the mother/daughter team of Pakistani-American filmmakers and authors Samina Quraeshi and Sadia Shepard.

Saturday, August 10th, 11am – 2pm: Community Eid Celebration
Eid-Ul-Fitr, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast (also known as the Sugar Feast or the Sweet Festival), a celebration at the conclusion of Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was publicly celebrated in Berkshires for the first time on August 10th from 11am – 2pm, as part of Islam Contemporary.  This free and family-friendly interfaith and community event included henna, food and remarks from members of the community

Saturday, August 7th, 8pm: Arabic Music Ensemble featuring LAYAALI 
LAYAALI is a Massachusetts-based group of talented musicians whose love and dedication to Arabic music have earned them wide acclaim from both ethnomusicologists and audiences at sold-out performances throughout the U.S. and internationally. The ensemble is committed to performing the traditional music of the Arab world and to preserving the rich legacy of Arabic culture through soulful vocals, hypnotic instrumental improvisations, electrifying percussion, and faithful renditions and recordings of master works. The concert included a half an hour talk on the history of Arabic music.
About the Sponsors

The exhibition and events will be held in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District at two locations: the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and Whitney Center for the Arts. Pittsfield is the largest city in the culturally rich Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, and the show will be held during the high season for visitors to the region. Over 500,000 people visit the Upstreet Cultural district each year to enjoy art, performances, festivals, shops, dining and more.

The City of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development serves as the City’s first point of contact for artists of all stripes, cultural organizations, event organizers and creative businesses in Pittsfield.  We support, promote and initiate cultural activity in Pittsfield to benefit our citizens, our quality of life and our local economy.  The Office manages the city-owned Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in downtown Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District.  The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts features a gallery/performance space featuring changing exhibitions, classes, meetings and performances; a ceramic studio; a dark room; and nine working artist studios.

The newly established Whitney Center for the Arts aims to provide a platform to established and up and coming visual and performing artists to showcase their talent and promote arts and culture in Pittsfield.


For more information please contact Curator ‘Islam Contemporary’, Aziz Sohail at aaziz@brandeis.edu or at 413-499-9348.