What if our mundane interactions with strangers were imbued with a message of peace, recognition, and respect? This sculpture is inspired by the Arabic word "salaam." Salaam means "peace" and is also used as a greeting to wish peace upon others. Its usage can feel mundane, commonplace, everyday, unremarkable. It is so mundane; it is so embedded. In many situations in Arabic it is polite to say hello and goodbye to everyone individually, with specific phrases and replies. Everyone merits this level of recognition and respect.
This project was motivated by an upsurge in mosque arsons in the months following Trump's election, with a focus on one story in particular. The Victoria Islamic Center in Texas was burned down in January. To raise money to rebuild, a GoFundMe campaign was created, and the campaign was extremely successful, doubling its initial goal. Comments posted to the website of the GoFundMe campaign are shown on the sculpture. In response to hate and violence, the success of the GoFundMe campaign points to community resilience and support.
This project was motivated by personal and family experiences with Islamophobia and a desire to spread peace and friendship in response.
The sculpture was shown at the 8th Annual Islamophobia Conference and in public locations on Berkeley's campus in April 2017.
It was also shown at Oakland Figment 2018.
Passerby were invited to add their own commentary or drawing to the sculpture using markers or spray chalk, and perhaps pause to reflect on issues around diversity, acceptance, acts of violence, and the maintenance of peace. Over a few days, passerby's additions made the sculpture come to life.