Visual Arts

South Florida artist’s mural reflects attitudes toward Muslim Americans

Miami-based artist Huong stands in front of a 100-foot by 8-foot tall mural inspired by the plight of American Muslims. The work is interactive, allowing those who view it the chance to write their opinions, discuss the issues among themselves or their feelings about the painting. It will be located on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, open to the public starting Jan. 10.
Miami-based artist Huong stands in front of a 100-foot by 8-foot tall mural inspired by the plight of American Muslims. The work is interactive, allowing those who view it the chance to write their opinions, discuss the issues among themselves or their feelings about the painting. It will be located on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, open to the public starting Jan. 10. emichot@miamiherald.com

Artist Huong stood in front of her Kendall home and gallery, eager to show off her piece called the America Muslim Mural.

The interactive mural serves as a snapshot of the country’s attitude towards Muslim Americans with paintings of Muslim Americans in red, white and blue, along with more abstract images.

To accompany the art, there are pro- and anti-Muslim quotes by politicians, and spaces for people to respond to questions written on the work.

“You can see the voice of America here,” Huong said, stepping foot into her domed house, which resembles a mosque. She calls it a “Muslim home.”

The hand-written responses on the painting are to questions such as “Why do American Muslims not speak up?” and “What do you know about Muslims?”

“Treatment towards women is it a religious or government mandate? The abuse must stop,” written in red ink and signed M. Garcia.

“Ignorance breeds intolerance,” wrote Paola.

“Our first religion should be love,” wrote Tes.

Huong debuted the project about a year ago at an Asian-American festival, and will be showing it again Jan. 16-31 in South Beach. The painting will be displayed at the Peace Mural Foundation daily from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the 1606 Washington Ave.

Huong decided to do a mural on Muslim Americans because “they’ve been a target for so long.”

“Since the Iraq war our nation has been attacking Muslim countries, and that [made] Muslim Americans so vulnerable,” Huong said, adding that like to see unity and corporation among the people of various faiths, including the Muslim community, to fight against racism and terror.

This month, Huong had three artists from Baltimore visit her home. During their stay, the trio stopped and looked at the mural.

“It’s really nice to see all the people who wrote on it, and how they feel about everything,” said Janae Peugh, 23, as she read some of mural. “I feel like most of these questions are thought about a lot, but people don’t really get into the subject so to see people’s opinions or bold statements, it’s really interesting to me.”

She says that these works of art would help promote conversations and understanding.

Huong agrees.

“We need to change our attitudes. [Islam is] a nice culture, it’s a nice religion,” she said, before pausing a moment. “The reason I do this is because I am an immigrant.”

In 1975, Houng took a two-week long boat ride from Vietnam to Southern California, then Alaska. The experience is still fresh in her mind, saying she knows what it’s like to be discriminated against.

“I understand the color of fear,” Huong said.

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