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Photography Exhibit at OCU Shows Muslim Struggles in U.S.

by Rod Jones

A photography exhibit coming to Oklahoma City University this month will focus on the struggles of being Muslim in America. Photographer Robert Gerhardt will give a public presentation at 2:45 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Norick Art Center at N.W. 26th Street and Blackwelder Avenue.

The “Muslim/American, American/Muslim” exhibit will be on display Aug. 24 through Oct. 11 with an opening reception at 6 p.m. Aug. 28. Admission is free.

Gerhardt started taking photos on the theme after reading stories about controversy surrounding a proposed mosque and community center on Staten Island in New York. The protests against the mosque and other anti-Muslim demonstrations across the country prompted Gerhardt to document the struggles through his art in hopes of bridging the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims.

“My goal for this project, then, is to try to understand and document the intersection between ‘Muslim’ and ‘American,’ since the latter part of this community’s identity is often forgotten,” Gerhardt states in his exhibit introduction. “My hope is that this photo series can encourage a dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims in America that attempts to erase the boundaries that engender a sense of ‘them’ and begin to foster a sense of ‘us.’”

Gerhardt grew up in Philadelphia and took many trips to art museums and galleries in the Northeast. He became more interested in photography during college in Massachusetts, earning Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the College of the Holy Cross and an MFA in photography from the Lesley University College of Art and Design.

He has had several solo and group exhibitions in the U.S., Canada and Europe. He currently lives in New York City.

The Nona Jean Hulsey Gallery in OCU’s Norick Art Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about the exhibit or gallery, call 405-208-5229.

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