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Veiled Voices

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Nov. 10, 2008
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Veils, both physical and metaphorical, can conceal individuals, places and communities. This highly recognizable, emotionally charged garment provides the theme for the exhibition, "The Veil: Visible and Invisible Spaces," which opens Nov. 13 at the UW-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery.

This timely exhibit unmasks the controversy of the veil within a cross-cultural context. Is the Muslim hijab, which hides a woman's hair or face, a symbol of faith or oppression? Similarly, when the Catholic sisterhood cloaks itself in habit and veil, is this devotion or anonymity? Along with addressing these questions, the artwork uncovers the concept of veiled communities in society-including LGBT, immigrant and homeless communities-which are often forced to stay hidden from mainstream ideas of acceptability while trying to find a political and economic voice.

Visually documenting these themes are 29 international artists working in media that vary from film and installation to collage, photography and painting. The exhibit serves as a companion piece to curator Jennifer Heath's anthology, The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore, and Politics.The combination of art, literature and documentary film speaks to the current political climate. As Union Art Gallery manager Shannon Dosemagen explains, "We've been working on this [exhibit] since last April, and it's very exciting. Here the community engages in art, but not only the art: It relates to activism-speaking your voice."

A public art project calling on responses to "The Veil" takes place in the UWM Union concourse on Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. UWM invites the community to portray their own understanding of veiled peoples, cultures or stereotypes in hopes of presenting multiple viewpoints. The Union Concourse will display artwork from the project through Dec. 12.

The Union Gallery hosts an opening reception for the exhibit on Nov. 13, 5 to 8 p.m., and will feature a 4 p.m., Nov. 14, gallery talk with Heath and a panel discussion titled "Revelatio: Seeing Through the Veil." Additional interpretations of this fascinating subject may be viewed at two free film seminars on Nov. 20 and Nov. 25 at 7 p.m., including Hollywood Harems, Transparency and Prince Among Slaves. On Dec. 3, Shireen Malik will conclude this compelling exhibit with a dance and multimedia performance that presents the mythology of the veil.

Chic attire will be the focus of the fund-raiser to benefit the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Nov. 14. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League presents its 44th annual "Symphony Style," showcasing Peggy Jennings, a designer who has dressed Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. This classic fashion show begins at 8:30 p.m., following cocktails at 6:30 p.m. For ticket information, call the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League at (414) 226-7852 or go to www.mso.org.

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