Palestinian-American artist featured in Arab American National Museum’s new exhibition
Palestinian author, organizer and artist Leila Abdelrazaq’s artwork is featured in the Arab American National Museum’s newest exhibition, “Drawing in the Diaspora: Comic Art & Graphic Novels.”
The exhibition, which runs through April 19, offers a first-person view into the talent Abdelrazaq possesses and the depth of her ability to speak through illustrations. A variety of excerpts and original illustrations from her books and zines are featured, including her debut graphic novel “Baddawi,” which was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards, as well as short comics “Migraine Hell,” “Mariposa Road” and “Smuggling Books Across the Border.” An original 10-foot by 8-foot hand-painted mural, created just for the exhibition, will also be on display.
Abdelrazaq’s comics and illustration fuse art and activism. Her experiences as the daughter of a Palestinian refugee have informed her work throughout her artistic career, shaping her subject matter and storytelling.
“Baddawi” details her father’s coming-of-age journey in a refugee camp, while “Mariposa Road” ties the struggles of undocumented immigrants with the imprecise nature of Palestinian citizenship. Her other works focus on political movements in Chicago and nationally, from the fight to free Rasmea Odeh to the #Arabs4BlackPower network.
In conjunction with her exhibition, Abdelrazaq will lead a free interactive workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. March 4 at the Museum’s Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center. Participants will engage in conversation, stroll the Drawing in the Diaspora gallery and have the chance to create their own comic zines with prompts, guides and tips provided by Abdelrazaq.
The AANM Store is featuring a variety of exhibition-related merchandise in store only. Items include artwork posters, books and zines, prints and T-shirts.
The Chicago native was a participant on the 2015 Palestine Festival of Literature. Her work has been featured in World War 3 Illustrated, VICE Magazine, The Electronic Intifada, and PEN America’s The Illustrated PEN, among others.
She has spoken on programs such as Uprising with Sonali and WBEZ 91.5 (Chicago Public Radio) and has also given workshops and talks in classrooms, universities and conferences around the world, from the American University of Beirut’s Symposium on Arabic Comics to appearing at the first-ever ComiqueCon at AANM in 2015.
Abdelrazaq has been involved in both national and local community organizing around the issue of Palestine since 2011. She graduated from DePaul University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and a bachelor’s degree in Arabic studies.