Celebrate National Arab American Heritage Month with the Arts!

NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD
collage of four photos including black dress with Palestinian embroidery, a desert landscape, a red and white embroidered fabric piece, and a group of three women

The Gardens Dress by Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim. Photo by Wafa Ghnaim; (In) Beautification, 1333, 2011, by Tarek Al Ghoussein, a Kuwaiti of Palestinian origin. Image courtesy of the artist and the Third Line; The Birds by Feral Abbasi-Ghnaim. Photo by Wafa Ghnaim; Harem Revisited #36, 2012, by Lalla Essaydi of Morocco. Image courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery

April is National Arab American Heritage Month, and this year’s theme is “Celebrating Arab American Resilience and Diversity.”

Nearly four million Americans trace their roots to an Arab country. Arab Americans are diverse ethnically, religiously, politically, and artistically. 

The National Endowment for the Arts celebrates all of the Arab American artists, culture bearers, and arts workers who have helped others to heal, to find connection, and to thrive. Arab Americans have had—and continue to have—a profound impact on the landscape of arts and culture in America. Through a range of mediums, Arab American artists invite us to expand our understanding about ourselves and the world around us. Sherin Guirguis is a visual artist whose work draws on history and narrative to share stories that engage audiences in a dialogue about power, agency, and social transformation through art. Nahid Hagigat is a visual artist who combines her paintings with her own life stories.  And of course, one of the most famous Arab American artists, Kahlil Gibran was a poet, artist, and author in both the English and Arabic languages. 

Through their leadership and service on the National Council on the Arts, which advises the NEA and votes on all proposed grants, Council Members Ishmael Ahmed and Kinan Azmeh bring their experiences and perspectives to lift up communities through the power of the arts. Ahmed created Detroit’s annual Concert of Colors over 30 years ago, to bring free world music concerts to the city every summer and was a founding force in the creation of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Azmeh is a New York-based world-renowned clarinetist and composer whose work seeks to transcend barriers, lift up humanity and unite all people.

These artists, and many others, are integral to helping educate the world about the many facets of Arab cultures, including art, humanities, politics, gender relations, history, and religions. This April, the NEA encourages you to learn more about Arab American Heritage through the arts.