Artists Rejuvenate, Reconnect at Annual IMAN Artist Retreat


Earlier this month, IMAN hosted 50 brilliant creatives from across the country during its annual Artist Retreat, a unique space intended to forge stronger bonds between artists in our growing network. “The IMAN Artist Retreat is where artists can come to find a heart, find family, and learn how valuable their art is as a [living] language,” said IMAN Roster Artist Yaasha Abraham. This year’s participants nurtured interdisciplinary collaboration, renewed and discovered senses of spirituality, identity and purpose, and engaged a deeper understanding of IMAN’s commitment to cultivate the arts and drive social change.

Many of the retreat attendees are also members of IMAN’s Artist Roster, and the planning committee was led in part by the 2018-2019 inaugural cohort of Sacred Cypher Creatives. The artists spent three days collectively reflecting, rejuvenating, and reconnecting as they explored intersections between their crafts, healing practices and IMAN’s community organizing principles.

Sessions during the retreat were held intentionally in circles—a sacred artistic practice in hip-hop—while incorporating physical and spiritual grounding techniques under the stewardship of an inter-cultural group of elders including Grandmother Walks On Water, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, board member Laila Muhammad, and her mother Shirley Muhammad. Additionally, many artists shared their inspirational work during short moments of expression called “art bursts”. Each day wrapped up with an evening jam session, a free-flowing safe space for several attendees to explore their creativity and share their talents among supportive peers.

IMAN’s Artist Retreat is a yearly springboard, reminding participants of the arts’ true healing potential and its possibilities as a collaborative, power-building platform for our community. For more information about the retreat or arts programming, email arts@imancentral.org.

IMAN Hosts 1st Ever CommUNITY Café in Jackson, MS

For the first time ever, IMAN hosted its CommUNITY Café performance series in Jackson, Mississippi. CommUNITY Café: Truth, Healing & Transformation featured an intimate, “down in the Delta” blend of IMAN Roster Artists—including Jackson’s own Tawanna Shaunte and 5th Child. IMAN Roster artists Omar Offendum, Lula Saleh, Amir ‘Tubad’ Gray and host Preacher Moss—along with the captivating Kamilah Furqaan and Authentic Aseelah.

Hosted inside the Mississippi Museum of Art, the evening kicked off with a soulful “Café Hour” during which guests enjoyed small bites, conversation and soulful performances by jazz flutist & vocalist Kamilah Furqaan, poet & songstress Lula Saleh and trumpet & tuba player, Tubad & The Kings of New Orleans.

This Café was held in conjunction with the dynamic, Jackson-based International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC), as part of their national conference which was centered around“Race, Class and Religious Intersectionality in America: An Ongoing Struggle For Human Dignity”. This incredible partnership helped to bring truth, healing and upliftment to the Jackson community, bridging a diverse and intergenerational audience through IMAN’s Arts and Culture programming. These uniquely curated engagements would not be possible without the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and Pillars Fund, whose generous support helps further the work to reach, connect with and mobilize broader audiences through artistic expressions.

Keep up with the latest IMAN Arts & Culture updates by following #IMANArts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. CommUNITY Café is primed for an even more exciting 2019, and we hope to see you there!

Paint & Sip Power Hour Soothes ATL Community

IMAN Roster Artist and Sacred Cypher Creative Kelly Crosby recently led a “Paint & Sip” session for the Atlanta community as part of the Grassroots Power Hour series. In the spring, Crosby completed an artist residency rooted in the concept of “waging beauty”, and this past month’s gathering successfully introduced attendees to ways the can use artistic expression as a personal and collective healing tool.

Before starting to paint, community members reflected on and discussed the relationship between colors and emotions. Crosby encouraged guests to more intentionally choose their color palettes, and use that self-examining exercise to more authentically and safely access their feelings. The painting activity was themed “Envisioning Your Safe Haven” and, as strokes of blue, red, purple, yellow, and green blended across the canvases, each artist imagined, created, or recreated their ideal safe space.

Jayida Ché Herbal Tea Spot co-founder Aleathia Saleem helped the attendees tap further into their creative energies, serving several flavors of her carefully crafted tea. From the “Pure Peace” blend to “You Had Me At Rose”, each cup was filled with Jayida Ché’s signature mixture of tea leaves, roots, and flowers. Saleem stressed to the community members the nutritional benefits and soothing effects of ingredients like chamomile, lavender, ginseng, hibiscus, rose, and lemon balm.

With a canvas in one hand and a cup in the other, each community member then shared the reflections on their safe haven. Many had created vibrant images of nature landscapes and peaceful homes, but one Green ReEntry cohort member presented his version of the iconic ‘Thinking Man’ figure in a bold contrast of forest green and cobalt blue. “My safe space is not external, it is internal. My mind is my safe space,” he explained.

IMAN Atlanta thanks Kelly Crosby, Aleathia Saleem and all our Grassroots Power Hour attendees for bringing holistic healing to the community. Stay tuned for exciting updates on all the Fall events in Atlanta by following IMAN Atlanta on Facebook.

ATL Green ReEntry Incorporates Mental Health Resources

IMAN Atlanta continues exciting growth, and the establishment of a holistic center for Mental Health Services is a key aspect of its future trajectory. Towards this goal, Atlanta staff and leaders hosted community leader and licensed professional counselor Imam Nadim Ali (LPC) to facilitate a group therapy session with the current Green ReEntry cohort.

Imam Nadim has provided community-centered counseling services for over 20 years, and has specialized experience working with vulnerable populations. During his session with the cohort, he discussed various impacts of incarceration on individuals and communities. From the challenges of emotional regulation to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Imam Nadim engaged participants with real-world examples of how life challenges can adversely affect mental health, while exploring ways to cope with such difficulties.

Bringing the effects of trauma into focus while keeping the cohort grounded, Imam Nadim emphasized the influence between pre-incarceration trauma that may be exacerbated during incarceration. He advised on how to balance one’s emotions, asking each Green ReEntry cohort member, “How are you processing your anger?” Imam Nadim added, “the core of anger is the need to be appreciated and loved.”

Carrying on the momentum from this engaging discussion, IMAN Atlanta plans to continue providing services for the Green ReEntry Cohort. In September, IMAN Atlanta will partner with Mental Health America of Georgia to host a daylong Mental Health First Aid training to equip local leaders with critical skills and basic mental health knowledge.