At this roaming Montreal gallery, artists share their personal stories of what it means to be Muslim

CBC Arts correspondent Oussayma Canbarieh sits down with the founder of Silk Road Institute, a space for Muslims to build understanding using art.

Silk Road Institute creates a space for Muslims to break stereotypes and build understanding using art

This space in Montreal is dedicated to artists telling their own stories about being Muslim

5 years ago
Duration 3:39
CBC Arts correspondent Oussayma Canbarieh sits down with the founder of Silk Road Institute, a creative outlet for Muslim artists

Some of the work produced by the artists of Montreal's Silk Road Institute is meditative, some of it lighthearted — but all of it is a respectful examination of Muslim culture from the inside. And it shows that the experiences of Muslim artists are individual and personal and often include stories that are left out of the narrative of what it means to be Canadian.

Silk Road Institute exists as a place for Muslim artists to tell their stories and talk about their identity through music, calligraphy or even simple conversations. Mohamed Shaheen founded the Institute as a cultural organization that would offer a platform for Muslim artists to share their work. The Institute hosts a range of events throughout the year at different locations in Montreal that includes book clubs, photography workshops and musical events. All of this is done with the goal of creating a space for Muslim artists in Montreal to discuss art and culture while they break stereotypes and build understanding.

In this video, you'll meet a few of the Silk Road Institute's artists and find out why Shaheen felt it was so important to create a Muslim artistic hub.

The Silk Road Institute is offering a $3,000 bursary to artists who identify as Muslims. You can find more information here — the deadline is May 10.

Watch Exhibitionists online. New episodes Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.


Oussayma is an award-winning Canadian journalist born in Damascus and raised in Montreal. She’s worked on multiple subjects from Canada, the US, the Middle East, North Africa, East Asia and South East Asia. Oussayma has also produced several TV series and Web documentaries. Her work has been featured on national and international media outlets, including CBC/Radio-Canada, Radio Canada International, Al Jazeera, AP, Deutsche Welle Radio, Huffington Post, AJ+, Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, SNTV and the Montreal Gazette. Oussayma studied Business and Journalism at Concordia University and travelled to more than 40 countries.