Strange Things Are Happening

Strange Things Are Happening

Tuesday night, I made my way to Red Emma’s Bookshop, a free thinking and political cafe where people can gather to not just eat but to have deep discussions on topics like politics, human communication, economy, gender roles, racial issues, environmental safety, etc.

A lecture and workshop was being held in a private room hosted by the up and coming duo, StrVange Encounters. Salsabeel Abdelhamid and Aayesha Aijaz. Two young Muslim women working together to bring awareness and progressive-critical thinking to the masses on Islam in America. StrVnge Encounters will be hosting a series of workshops throughout the month of August.


Their first workshop was on Intersectionalities Within the Muslim Identity.
Of course, I attended. Not only did I want to hear what other’s thought and share my own experience at my local mosque, I wanted to meet other young Muslims. Something I struggle with is that I don’t have many Muslim friends because of the difficulty of acceptance that I face. I am considered to be too Western for some folks and we cannot relate to one another. This workshop aimed to address problems like that. During the workshop, we observed several Black Muslim men and women speak up about the prejudices they face in their communities and how rejected they feel.

Muslim communities are full of diversity but we do come into obstacles regarding racial and cultural clashes. One culture may not agree with another. Some races do not regard the other as equal, which is an absolute shame. Islam, of course, is all inclusive. However, due to cultures influenced by the notion that dark skin is considered undesirable, some groups of people are left out. The sub-movement #BlackMuslimLivesMatter has been growing. This is a clear sign that the Islamic world is slacking. Are we placing Asian and Arab Muslims on a pedestal over Black Muslims now, while quoting Malcolm X on Facebook and Twitter?

The most important thing that came out of Tuesday’s workshop was that voices were heard and taken into account that we, the Muslim communities, need to address such issues.
Abdelhamid and Aijaz are bringing Muslims together to start on the long journey of intersectionality.

To learn more and even attend a workshop, follow them on Facebook 
Visit their website for their blog and lifestyle articles as well!
Find them on Instagram
Twitter @thestrvnger
and Snapchat – thestrvngers



Camera Friends: An afternoon at the Conservatory

One of the loveliest things about having creative friends is that you get to create together.
As sappy as that sounds, creative friends is gratifying. You learn from each other, have fun, and build better relationships.

I got to go out with my new friends that I made during my last year at Towson University, while in the Photo Imaging program. Emma and Bryan. We took classes together, but finally hung out and took photos together.

We went out to the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. One of my favorite places.

Emma asked me to model for her but I had to take the opportunity to photograph her as well!

I got my prism out and did what I loved to do.


Shirin Neshat Inspiration

I discovered Shirin Neshat only last semester in the Fall. I wish I had learned about her sooner. Her work is what I had been wanting to do for a very long time. Neshat’s work is connected to her home country Iran and the revolutionary changes the country experienced.
This is what I wish to do for Pakistan but my relationship is not as strong like Neshat’s relationship is with Iran. She grew up with the revolution. I wasn’t even born when Pakistan won it’s independence. However, I came of age at the exact same time as 9/11 occurred. I was deep in the fresh big waves of Islamophobia.
I am now looking to Neshat for guidance, as a young woman who experienced adolescence during and post 9/11. Her work is fierce and unapologetic. I want that for my art so the image of being a Muslim is perceived no longer with fear but with admiration and support.



Senior Thesis Final Proposal


Senior Thesis Proposal


I will be exploring the symbolism of The Hand of Fatima in my piece.

The Hand of Fatima has a strong relevance in Islamic culture as well as Middle-Eastern and South East Asian cultures. It is the symbol of patience, loyalty, faith and resistance against difficulties. Fatima, (May Allah be pleased with her) was the daughter of Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him). Historically, Fatima was a strong female figure during a patriarchal Arab society. The symbol is respected in all sects of Islam and is recognized in Christianity and Judaism, as a charm to protect against the “Evil Eye”.

I plan to build a booth that has the quality of a mosque. There will be minarets on the corners. The walls will be fabric curtains. The size of the booth will be 4 ft x 4ft x 6ft 2in. Inside, there will be 3 photography portraits of different women displaying their hands like The Hand of Fatima covering both eyes. The other two photographs will be of just the Hand of Fatima, using a model’s hands. The eyes on the hands will be painted on. The portraits will be composed on the wall at the levels of where the fingertips are on the Hand of Fatima. The frames will be made out of a design I made and cut out of plywood using a 3d laser printer. The reason the models’ eyes and majority of their faces are covered is to respect the rule of not having any human or animal imagery is prohibited when used in a religious context, as well as inside a mosque, to avoid idolatry. Even though this is not an actual mosque, it is still having the intention of mimicking one, so the rules still follow through.

One of the models is my own mother. She accepted Islam in her early 20s while in college. She even picked up wearing the hijab. All on her own choice. She had not even met my father yet at the time either. She is a role model for me and for many others.

The second model is of my friend and Muslim activist Salsabeel Abdelhamid. She has worked hard for herself to give wearing the hijab a meaning that is important to her She has built her identity around it. She is someone I look up to.

The third model is my friend Valerie Proctor. She is not Muslim but she has been a strong ally in defending the religion and many of its followers. She also works hard to understand the faith and its affect on other cultures.

There will be an audio element to the installation as well. I will have a Bluetooth speaker connected to an iPod. The speaker will be playing an audio recording of a female Quran reciter, Maghfirah M Hussein. Male reciters are what mainly heard inside mosques. Female reciters are often rejected from reading aloud in congregations or even events. Even though, their recitation voices are beautiful and the performance is spectacular, a male reciter is preferred.

Below the portraits, centered in the middle, is the eye. The eye frame shape is cut from plywood using a 3d laser printer. The iris is a circular mirror piece, so viewers can see themselves and be apart of the piece.

The objective of my piece is to establish the power of a woman and that she respectfully has a place in the mosque, in which some countries don’t allow women to be inside. With Islam having many powerful female figures in its history, I find it to be hypocritical that so many of these countries parade a symbol with female-power origins and yet, shut away women and silence them. The eye is seen to be a powerful weapon in Middle Eastern/Asian cultures; Eyes have the ability to curse, protect, and speak. Women may not have many rights to speak but they have their eyes. With the eye on the Hand, that eye channels the strength Fatima had during her trials. Women who wear the Hand can find the strength to protect them selves against a male dominated world. Men can cover women up, but sooner or later they have to look at them in the eye and see what kind of power women have.


Faculty Review # 3

Ryan Murray is an Electronic Media & Film professor and among the courses, he teaches Experimental Film & Video, a course I am currently taking this semester. This is one of my favorite classes and I enjoy not only his teaching style, but the feedback he gives!



Ryan Murray Feedback

Hi Saalika,

Sorry for the delay. My son was sick this weekend so I was dealing with doctor stuff.

I think this idea is interesting. For me the most important aspect that might be overlooked is the fact that we are being asked to go in. It’s mosque-like, but it should also be a burqa that we are entering or putting on in a sense. I hope that it can be a black heavier fabric to suggest that, rather than a cheaper plastic material for example.


I’ll be interested to see it.


Faculty Review #2

Elizabeth Donadio teaches Writing About Art and History of Photography. I have enjoed her teaching style and learned a lot from her courses over the year. I trust Prof. Donadio to give me excellent feedback, just like she had in the past with my papers.


Feedback for Saalika Khan – Senior Thesis proposal 4/22/16

Prof. Liz Donadio

Saalika’s proposal for her senior thesis project is very well thought out; her

description of the installation, the meaning behind it, and her intentions for viewer

participation are concise and easy to visualize.

I would suggest that Saalika be sure to consider all of the small details in the

construction of the booth. What will the lighting be like inside? What kind of fabric will the

curtains be? Will there be a chair or a bench for visitors? Perhaps there could be more

items collected on the wall with the portraits, or more of the portraits themselves. Give the

visitor more to look at, more to consider. Are there other objects / decorations that could

be paired with the portraits that speak to the idea of the eye, of looking, of seeing?

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s infuence is prevalent in Saalika’s proposal, specifcally

the idea of photographing women’s hands painted with an Islamic symbol. I’d encourage

Saalika to see if she could step outside of this idea a little bit more, to use her own voice. I

was struck by Saalika’s description of her mother and two friends who will be her models

and are also important female fgures in her life. Can this connection to her models come

through in the installation in some way?

Another suggestion I have is for Saalika to pay as much attention to the book that will

contain “information on the fght for Female equality in the Muslim community…” as she is

giving to the construction of the booth and the portraits. Will it be printed or handwritten?

Will there be aspects of Islamic design? Make the book beautiful and visitors will want to

look at it. If it’s simply a collection of “blurbs”, it could be easily looked over.

I have the same suggestion for the construction of the eye covered in mirror pieces.

It feels like an afterthought, to cover the shape in mirrors. Be sure it doesn’t come across as

cliché. If the eye is fnely crafted, and perhaps contains more objects / materials than just

mirror shards, this can help elevate it beyond a simple motif.

The introduction of sound is an important element of the installation. It will make for

an immersive environment for the visitor, as well as help isolate them from what’s going on

outside of the booth.

Overall, Saalika has thoughtful and inspired ideas for this project. I encourage her to

stay true to her personal connections and feelings on the topic. She writes: “The eye is seen

to be a powerful weapon in Middle Eastern/Asian cultures; Eyes have the ability to curse,

protect, and speak.” Saalika is looking inward and outward, combining a personal

connection with a worldwide issue. Finding a balance between these is key

Faculty Review # 1

Gregory McLemore is a 2D and Drawing professor. I have had him for both courses and very much admire him for his teaching and artwork.

Below is his review of my first proposal draft.


Greg McLemore Feedback


So first of all, that drawing is not very impressive. I KNOW you can do much better than that. It looks like you are focused on a limited idea and are not paying any attention to what is happening in the art.

Secondly, The object you describe sounds a whole lot like those coin operated fortune telling devices that were popular a few years back. Do a little research on this—do a google search for “Fatima the coin operated fortune teller” … and you will see what I mean. I think you will have to either be very aware of that and make your move on top of it, above it, incorporating the history of it,  or move away from the idea. It seems that you are trying to express something serious but you may be taken as expressing something kitsch.


Sorry, re-reading all  of that sounds a little harsh… I just want to make sure you do a good job:)


My feeling is that you are struggling with making art from words and thoughts.. you do so much better working with the forms and letting the ideas develop as you work. But I trust you can pull it together

Ask if you have more questions.

Greg M