‘We Are MKE’: Fanana Banana July Art Exhibit Supports Local Milwaukee Artists | WUWM 89.7 FM

The artistic collective Fanana Banana organizes an upcoming exhibition entitled We are MKE July 8 on historic Mitchell Street. The show will feature local artists and provide an opportunity to connect with other creatives.

Fanana in Arabic means artist. “Banana” was a twist that founders Amal Azzam and Nayfa Naji added. Fanana Banana is an arts collective that supports Muslim, Middle Eastern and North African artists in Milwaukee.

Founders Amal Azzam and Nayfa Naji talk more about the gallery space at 710 West Historic Mitchell Street in Milwaukee.

“This show is really about getting back on the art scene in a big way. And also to secretly celebrate our milestones over the past two years due to COVID, we’ve had to take a long break. And it’s kind of like our comeback event,” says Azzam.

The group’s goal is to feature as many local artists as possible.

We are MKE is located in a former men’s clothing store that is set to become an artists’ hub across the Mitchell Street Arts Collective. The intention is to create space in the area for affordable arts programming.

After meeting Rew Gordon, one of the leaders of the Mitchell Street Arts Collective, Naji said, “It’s quite important for us to achieve the plan we had envisioned for this event to happen.”

Azzam says a wide range of artists will be featured with different types of artistic mediums like music, acrylic oil paintings, installation rooms as well as plenty of creative vendors to sell their work. There are more than 20 featured artists and 20 vendors.

There may be a misconception that Arab artists are limited to creating calligraphy or Islamic art, which is important, but Azzam sees Muslim artists in America in a phase of identity culture and trying new things.

Azzam hopes these shows will push the boundaries of creation as they finally have a space where the Arab artist can feel comfortable presenting their work.

Artists should have a space to share their work without judgment or the expectation that they must have a certain style of work to be labeled or fall into this category of Muslim artists, she says.

They work with local community organizers throughout the summer.

“We will be hosting an event for the Milwaukee Women’s Coalition COVID-19 Municipal Vigil. We will be doing a COVID visual installation on July 17. It will be in Washington Park and we will have another show hopefully in August. . Stay tuned listening for that,” Naji says.

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