Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

December 20, 2013

Mural helps immigrants see themselves in Hamtramck

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) — An old farmer in a turban, memories of his homeland carried in his head. A young girl with a veiled face, everything but her eyes cloaked in sky. A woman wearing a hijab, hopeful eyes looking toward her future.

Ismael Duran is none of these things. But that doesn’t stop him from seeing himself in the new mural gracing Sheeba Restaurant’s building in Hamtramck, according to The Detroit News.

“No matter how far you go from your homeland, you have to bring your homeland with you,” said Duran, the director of the Cultural Garage in southwest Detroit. “They are transporting themselves.”

The mural, which stretches 90 feet by 30 feet and features the three images of Yemeni Americans, was commissioned by the Arab American and Chaldean Council and OneHamtramck, a coalition in the city that seeks to bring together residents representing dozens of cultural groups in the city.

To create the mural which honors Arab Americans and was unveiled Dec. 7, OneHamtramck turned to a Chilean artist, Dasic Fernandez, a renowned muralist and grafitti artist who has studied Arab art and design.

“We figured it would be most appropriate for a Yemeni artist to do a Yemeni mural,” said Bill Meyer, executive director of OneHamtramck. “With Dasic, we knew from his art work and what he has done in the past that he would be the perfect artist for this project.”

Fernandez’s depiction includes the three figures, representing all of humanity’s life stages. He included landmarks unique to cities in Yemen as well as a re-occurring motif using the dragon’s blood tree, a unique tree resembling an umbrella that is only found on an island off Yemen. In the eyes of each of the people depicted, the artist included small figures in a landscape.

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