Sa’dia Rehman x Center for Art and Social Engagement Columbus

The Center for Art and Social Engagement (CASE) is an initiative to forge deeper connections between the Columbus Museum of Art, its collections and communities near and far. The Museum currently offers special programming in conjunction with the work of CASE Fellow, artist Sa’dia Rehman, including a new installation.

 In 2018, Columbus Museum of Art was awarded a Museums for America grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to enhance its role as a place for discourse on social issues by launching the Center for Art and Social Engagement. CASE fosters nuanced consideration of complex social issues as visitors engage with art, artists and one another. One grant reviewer remarked, “CMA’s proposal to launch the Center for Social Engagement represents a daring, timely and welcome shift by art museums to respond to social issues.”

Through collaborative exhibitions and participatory experiences focused on relevant social issues, CASE seeks to advance museum practices and generate critical reflection.

The first CASE exhibition in 2019 focused on social isolation. Planned and opened prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it took on new relevance during the challenges of 2020. The second exhibition, Justice in America: A Visual Inquiry is currently on view and features a special installation by 2020-2021 CASE Artist Fellow Sa’dia Rehman.

Sa’dia Rehman The Land of Promise

Sa’dia Rehman, ‘The Land of Promise,’ (2021) installation drawing at the Columbus Museum of Art. Photography credit: Luke Stettner

This related installation, The Land of Promise, features a dialogue between works from the collection and wall drawings by Rehman. In line with Rehman’s practice, the wall drawing engages the gallery architecture, and combines motifs from a range of sources. Decorative patterns, typical of art of the Islamic world, interweave with images of migration, incarceration and protest. Visitors may recognize some of these motifs from works in CMA’s collection.

Rehman describes The Land of Promise as a border. The term evokes the geography of migration and detention, but also traditions of decoration and adornment. Stenciled and hand-drawn onto the gallery walls, Rehman’s drawing will expand over the course of her yearlong fellowship and engage feedback from visitors. Rehman has designated each of the four walls with a specific theme: Horizon; Land; Future; and Afterlife. Ultimately, the drawing will run continuously around the room. The installation is the first phase of an evolving conversation that asks visitors to reflect upon the past, present and future of justice in America.

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