British Columbia

Ismaili Muslim women's art exhibit in Surrey celebrates diversity

“When you really look at the diversity of cultures and people there’s actually a lot of commonality that transcends those cultural barriers."

Surrey exhibit features work from 9 female Ismaili Muslim artists

'Creation', by Taslim Samji, the curator of the exhibit Commonality, on display in Surrey's Newton Cultural Centre. (Taslim Samji)

We're more alike than we are different — that's the message behind a new art exhibit in Surrey which features the work of nine female Ismaili Muslim artists.

Aptly named Commonality, the exhibit on display at the Newton Cultural Centre until Jan. 30 features about 20 pieces of art ranging from paintings to sculptures.

One of the sculptures on display is titled 'Born from a Single Soul', but Naznin Virji-Babul. (Naznin Virji-Babul)

"When you really look at the diversity of cultures and people, there's actually a lot of commonality that transcends those cultural barriers," said Taslim Samji, the Burnaby artist who curated the exhibit.

The art on display was created by women who have roots in East Africa, India and Pakistan.

Sikhism and Islam

One of the pieces, Pages of Pluralism, is a collaboration between Samji and Sikh artist Kelly Kaur, and was inspired by a conversation they had together.

Kaur was describing the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh faith, and that made Samji realize how the Quran of the Muslim faith had similar themes, as did the Bible.

Pages of Pluralism, is a collaboration between Taslim Samji and Kelly Kaur and features quotes taken from various scriptures (Taslim Samji/Kelly Kaur)

"So we came up with this idea to create pages that represent different quotes from these scriptures and put them together to show their commonalities, how these holy book scriptures are talking about love and peace," she said.

"It's amazing because there's so many common themes shared within these faiths, and we are constantly hearing the differences and how there are so many divisions."​

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