Sadaa: Voices of Women

Women in Muslim culture are stuck between a “double pincer assault,” as Egyptian writer Nawal El-Saadawi once put it—on one side, they’re stereotyped as either meek or fanatical by the Western media, and on another side, they’re expected to be silent and subservient by the more fundamentalist interpreters of Islam. “Sadaa: Voices of Women” (part of a larger festival of film and writing in Seattle this month) brings together four artists breaking the grip of those pincers. Pakistani artist Ayesha Khan (who resides in the U.S.) creates big, expressionist paintings and woodblock prints that burst with female bodies and scrawls of calligraphy. Guita Monfaredi’s swirling, abstract paintings aren’t as focused as Khan’s, but still manage to capture the visionary quality of Persian poet Rumi, whom she admires. Lebanese artist Randa Hilal is the standout of the show—her mixed-media works offer a marvelous fusion of feminism and tradition: talismanic nude women, handmade papers, and oriental rug motifs all intertwine in a very personal artistic vision. Umber Kazmi’s depiction of Pakistani women is much more literal than the other three artists, but powerful nonetheless. The iconic image of the show is Kazmi’s “Enuf!” (pictured above), a simple and potent statement of defiance. Gallery 110, 110 S. Washington St., 206-624-9336. Noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Exhibit ends Sat. Oct. 30.