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TEARS SHAPED LIKE WATERMELON SEEDS

WILLIAM J. ANDERSEN, ZUHAL FERAIDON, NINA GHANBARZADEH, REMA GHULOUM, DAVID NAJIB KASIR, KEVIN J. MIYAZAKI, MATTHEW PRESUTTI, SHAHZAAD RAJA, JAVE GAKUMEI YOSHIMOTO

FANANA BANANA, AMAL AZZAM, NAYFA NAJI

May 11, 2024 – August 24, 2024
Opening Reception Hours: 6 PM - 9 PM, Saturday, May 11th, 2024

 

Hawthorn Contemporary, in collaboration with David Najib Kasir, presents
Tears Shaped Like Watermelon Seeds, a group exhibition and benefit to support humanitarian
relief efforts for Gaza. This exhibition features the works of William J. Anderson, Zuhal Feraidon,
Nina Ghanbarzadeh, Rema Ghuloum, David Najib Kasir, Kevin Miyazaki, Matt Presutti, Shahzaad
Raja, and Jave Yoshimoto. Ancillary programming (dates to be determined) will feature Amal
Azzam and Nayfa Naji of Fanana Banana.

 

In an excerpt from the exhibition statement, Kasir writes, Tears Shaped Like Watermelon
Seeds is an exhibition that draws artists to ask for a humanitarian response in their work as
we witness the bombing of people and their land. With the death toll of children greater
than the modern world has seen, and over 30 thousand casualties of men and women in
less than half a calendar year. How do we respond to the imprisonment and separation of
families? How do we respond to corporations and governments in aiding of a genocide? The
call is now for art to tell the truth. The call is now for artists to demand a ceasefire and
peace.”

 

Tears Shaped Like Watermelon Seeds will open with a silent auction, and Hawthorn Contemporary
will donate all proceeds to humanitarian relief efforts like ActionAid International.

Exhibiting Artist Bios


William J. Andersen’s artwork and point of view have been primarily influenced by his travels
between the US and Asia over the last three decades. During this time, he has watched as regions
like the Middle East and East Asia have emerged as economic and cultural forces and is fascinated
by the tightening global web of economics, resource use, migration, and cultural hybridization.
Living and traveling within such diverse regions and cultures for much of his life has directed his
creative outlook to the notions of displacement, globalization, and hybridity. Using traditional and
new media approaches, his artwork often incorporates chinoiserie imagery, an interest acquired
early on amid his mother’s collection of blue and white china.

 

Zuhal Feraidon is an artist born in Afghanistan. She immigrated to the United States as a refugee
of war in 2005. She received her undergraduate degree in Studio Arts from The University of
Virginia and her MFA in Painting from The Rhode Island School of Design. She currently teaches
as an Assistant Professor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. Zuhal has exhibited nationally
and internationally and has been published in a book titled "The Art of Being Dangerous: Exploring
Women and Danger through Creative Expression" by Leuven University Press in Belgium. She is
a member of Women Forward International's Arts Advisory Committee and Council based in
Washington, DC. Her artistic interest is concerned with social identity and the politics of
representation. Zuhal's work focuses on resilience, strength, and survival in response to the
circumstance of war.

 

Nina Ghanbarzadeh is a visual artist who emigrated from Tehran, Iran in 2001. She earned her
BFA with a double major in painting, drawing and graphic design from the University of Wisconsin,
Milwaukee in 2013 and completed a two-year AIR Program with Redline Milwaukee in 2015. Nina
is a 2024 Mary L. Nohl Fellow in the Established Artist Category, the winner of best in the show
in Wisconsin Biennial 2020 and received the Fredric R. Layton Foundations Scholarship. She is
also a teaching artist and has been involved in many workshops, lectures, presentations, and
critiques. Recent focus in her work has been the intersection of text and image and the potential
of using text to create movement and texture.

 

Rema Ghuloum lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She received her BFA in Drawing and Painting
from California State University, Long Beach in 2007 and her MFA from California College of the
Arts in San Francisco in 2010. Rema has exhibited nationally and internationally and has been the
recipient of multiple grants including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the Joan Mitchell
Foundation Grant, Davyd Whaley Foundation Artist-Teacher Grant, and the Esalen Pacifica Prize.
Rema’s work has been reviewed in Art Forum, Hyperallergic, The Wall Street Journal, CARLA, the
LA Times, among others. Rema is represented by Philip Martin Gallery in Los Angeles.

 

David Najib Kasir, a Milwaukee-based painter whose work is comprised of personal narratives
and cultural history or events. In recent years, Kasir's work draws on stories from his parents’
journey to the U.S. and the current crisis from where they migrated (his mother migrated from
Syria, and his father, Iraq). As an artist born here, Kasir reveals his cultural identity in paint and
designs to inform viewers on the recent wars in Syria, in hopes of helping them develop an
understanding of the millions of voiceless Arabs now living in chaos and disarray. By using
beautiful traditional Arab designs called Zellige to dress the figures in his work, Kasir shows the
beauty of a culture and the tragedy as families try to hold on to it and each other as everything
around them falls apart. Kasir has a BFA in painting from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
(2001) and is the proud father of two young adult daughters (one being an artist themselves).

 

Kevin J. Miyazaki is an artist and photographer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work
addresses themes of identity, ethnicity and memory, often focusing on his family history and the
incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. His work has been exhibited at the

Museum of Wisconsin Art, The Haggerty Museum of Art, Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Madison
Museum of Contemporary Art and the Hyde Park Art Center, among others venues. Miyazaki's
first public art commission, a series of portraits in partnership with Indian Community School, is
now on view at the Baird Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 

Matthew Presutti is a print and paper artist originally from the foothills of the Appalachian
Mountains nestled in rural southeastern Ohio. The region's rich history of social activism and the
beauty of its forgotten landscape are the driving force behind his artistic practice and research
into sustainable studio methods. Presutti received his BFA from Ohio University in 2006 and MFA
in printmaking from the University of South Dakota in 2013. He is an Adjunct Faculty Member and
Printmaking Lab Technician at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design where he teaches
printmaking, papermaking and book arts. Presutti is the founder of HOAX, a non-commercial
research exhibition space & print shop located in BaWWSHANAYFAy View neighborhood of
Milwaukee. He’s currently researching papermaking with raw hemp fibers grown in southeastern Wisconsin
courtesy of Dr. Shekinah of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.

 

Shahzaad Raja is a self-taught mixed media artist. He is a Pakistani American based out of
Chicago, IL. All of his work is handmade, cut from magazines, books, and newspapers. He uses
his work to reflect different social and political issues of our time. He is affiliated with the Chicago
based Artists against Apartheid organization, where he is featured at their bi-monthly shows to
help raise money for various organizations in Gaza. You can find his work wheatpasted around
different parts of Chicago, most notably on the northside.

 

Jave Gakumei Yoshimoto is an artist and educator of multi-cultural background. He was born
in Japan to Chinese parents and immigrated to California at a young age. He is a recipient of the
2015 Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painter’s and Sculptor’s grant, which he used to travel to Nepal
and Lesvos Island in Greece to research on the topics on human crisis, survival, empathy and
resilience. Yoshimoto currently works as an Associate Professor of Art at University of Nebraska
at Omaha.

 

Programmed Artist Bios

 

Fanana Banana is a platform for Muslim and MENA (Middle Eastern or North African) artists.
They began with the first Muslim Milwaukee art show in 2019 with a mission to create a safe space
for local Muslim and MENA artists through art shows. Exhibiting a wide variety of art including
abstract, realism, sculpture, collage, fine art, photography, and more. Fanana Banana has since
expanded into offering vendor events, intimate networking workshops and art sessions for
nonprofits and businesses. Fanana Banana is organized by Amal Azzam and Nayfa Naji.

 

Amal Azzam is a daughter of Palestinian refugees, a Muslim woman and first generation
American living in the Midwest. Her work reflects the layers of trauma, freedom and
misconceptions she carries within her identity. She invites the viewer with the use of playful
colors, a predominant use of pink and abstracted shapes. Amal also experiments with wearables,
found objects and performance photography to express her ideas on the inner struggles of her
identity. Amal possesses over five years of experience within the nonprofit sector. With a strong
background in Graphic Design, she has held positions in diverse nonprofit organizations, including
those focused on political nonpartisan work, arts advocacy, and refugee resettlement efforts.
Additionally, Amal co-founded Fanana Banana, an influential arts movement in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. The initiative is committed to hosting inclusive art events specifically tailored for
Muslim, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA), marginalized and underserved artists.

 

Nayfa Naji is a Palestinian Muslim American born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. Having graduated
from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2018 with a certificate in Production Artist and an
associate degree in Graphic Design, she later earned a bachelor's in Design Studies and
Community Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2021. Nayfa's art, influenced by
her Palestinian heritage, Islamic faith, social movements, PCOS, and mental health, has been
featured in exhibitions at the UWM Art Gallery, Walker's Point Center for the Arts, and Milwaukee
Artist Resource Network. She co-founded Fanana Banana, a platform shedding a spotlight on
Muslim and MENA artists and creatives through supportive inspiring events. Nayfa has contributed
to murals promoting racial equity and social justice, notably "Mutasaweeyah" at the Milwaukee
County Circuit Courthouse.

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