Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bangladesh Hero inspires US artiste

Dr. Richard L. Benkin

Sharon Sayegh is a painter living in a community of artists in New Jersey, USA. Like other artists, when something inspires her, she can best express that inspiration through her art. Right now, she is drawing that inspiration from Weekly Blitz editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. She first became aware of him when she read an article about his efforts in The Jewish Voice and Opinion, a newspaper that has been extremely supportive of Shoaib Choudhury. In 2007, its editor Susan Rosenbluth, informed two New Jersey mayors that Shoaib would be visiting the area. Mayor Michael Wildes of Engelwood and Mayor Eli Katz of Teaneck were so excited about the visit that they arranged to present Shoaib with special commendations from their city while he was in northern New Jersey.

Shoaib fascinated Sayegh, and so she made an effort to learn more about him.
Sayegh wrote that she “was very moved by the fact that he risks his life to stand up for what he believes in [an] effort to make peace and fight propaganda against Americans, Christians and Jews and Israel.” She was so inspired that she has begun a series of paintings entitled Brave Hearts; Warriors for Peace. The first piece in the series, shown here, is of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Sayegh said she was especially interested in “moderate Muslim voices.” Quite often, those Muslims who are touted as moderate in the United States turn out to be quite the opposite. Thus, she wanted to make Americans aware that there are real, moderate Muslims.

Sayegh also noted that this series is quite different from her other work and that there is some challenge in developing it artistically. But she added that Shoaib’s courage “keeps me working on this series with an urgency to complete it and show it.” Her second subject in the series is Ayan Hrsi Ali, with whom Shoaib shared the American Jewish Committee’s “Moral Courage Award” in 2006.
Sharon Sayegh recently co-founded a New Jersey art collective where she intends to first exhibit Brave Hearts; Warriors for Peace. She is also involved in a New York artists’ organization, the Contemporary Artist Network in NYC, and hopes that affiliation will enable her “to bring the work of these incredible people to as many peoples’ attention as possible through my paintings.” Sayegh has exhibited extensively in New Jersey. Her web site—part of the Highland Park, New Jersey artist community—is: