Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI)

Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI)

City Of Los Angeles Department Of Cultural Affairs

George Awde, Untitled, 2007–14. Series of 24 inkjet prints and smaller viewing table of prints. Courtesy of the artist.

September 4, 2014

Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI)


Launching this September, the Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI) brings together nearly 30 cultural institutions throughout Los Angeles to tell various stories of traditional and contemporary art from multiple Islamic regions and their significant global diasporas. The celebration of Islamic art and culture has been initiated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in partnership with the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Community Foundation, the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and the Barnsdall Park Foundation. For more information, please visit www.laislamarts.org.

Debuting in September 2014, LA/IAI is the first-of-its-kind, wide-scale citywide initiative on Islamic arts. Anchoring LA/IAIare two connected exhibitions, Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art and the DCA-commissioned contemporary art exhibition, Shangri La: Imagined Cities, to be held at DCA’s Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) at Barnsdall Park.  

“Los Angeles is a global city, and we’re proud to showcase Islamic Arts through this citywide initiative,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “LA/IAI will offer engaging exhibitions and programs that showcase our city’s cultural richness and spark dialogue.” 

LA’s substantial populations from areas with strong Islamic roots make the city a compelling location for this initiative. LA/IAI casts a wide net, being inclusive and welcoming, with art as its central focus. Designed to build a greater understanding of the role of Islamic arts, LA/IAI seeks to stimulate the global conversation in connection to cultural, political, and social issues. 

From September through December, DCA is collaborating with nearly 30 partner institutions and community organizations throughout Southern California to present an innovative and inspiring mix of complementary cultural programs. Among them are The Getty, CalArts, REDCAT, the Goethe-Institut, Japanese American Cultural Community Center, Islah LA,and Discostan

Uniquely qualified to lead LA/IAI, Amitis Motevalli, an exhibiting contemporary artist herself and director of DCA’s William Grant Still Arts Center, states: “Underscoring LA’s role as one of the epicenters of visual constructions regarding Islam and all who fall under the umbrella of the term “the Islamic World,” through architecture, film and its large Middle Eastern, Asian, African as well American Islamic populations, LA/IAI marks the largest response anywhere in the country to Doris Duke’s Shangri La.”

LAMAG is the fifth and final mainland stop on the national tour of a major traveling exhibition chronicling how tobacco heiress Doris Duke came to amass an impressive collection of Islamic artworks from throughout the Islamic world. Doris Duke’s Shangri La also showcases how she went on to build her Shangri La, the five-acre estate in Honolulu to house the collection.

Organized by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the show was masterminded by curators Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins, who interwove architectural documents and vintage photographs along with more than 60 objects from the collection. 

Shangri La: Imagined Cities, provides a critical juxtaposition to Doris Duke’s Shangri La. The exhibition is produced by Baghdad-born Rijin Sahakian, a guest curator selected by DCA for her intimate knowledge of the contemporary art scene and pioneering work in the Middle East. 

Imagined Cities artists and their respective works will explore these contemporary themes. Artists include Haig Aivazian, Jananne Al Ani, George Awde, Taysir Batniji, Charles Gaines, Mariam Ghani, Gelare Khoshgozaran, and Adrian Paci

About the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs 
The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) generates and supports high quality arts and cultural experiences for Los Angeles’ four million residents and 40 million annual visitors. DCA advances the social and economic impact of the arts and ensures access to diverse and enriching cultural activities through grantmaking, marketing, development, public art, community art programming, arts education, and building partnerships with artists and arts and cultural organizations in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. 

City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs presents Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI)
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September 4, 2014

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