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Cut & Paste — Palestinian American Artists Saj Issa and Kiki Salem Explore The Mixing Of Worlds

Two twenty-something artists put their identity as “third-culture kids” at the heart of their collaborative exhibition of ceramics, woven textiles and mixed-media installations on view at Kranzberg Arts Center through May 15.

Both Kiki Salem and Saj Issa’s parents emigrated from the same village in the occupied West Bank, but it wasn’t until Salem’s family moved to St. Louis for her high school years that the two met and later shared an art class. Their friendship and collaboration has grown into exhibition “Back Home In Your New Home.” 

Saj Issa's mixed-media piece "Someone Is At The Door" includes a mirror through which one can see a work by Kiki Salem, "The In Between." 4/30/19
Credit Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio
Saj Issa's mixed-media piece "Someone Is At The Door" includes a mirror through which one can see a work by Kiki Salem, "The In Between."

Issa was born and raised in St. Louis. Salem was born in the West Bank; her family traveled between there and the United States for a bit before settling in Dayton, Ohio, and then St. Louis.

Their shared concerns as Palestinian-Americans based in the Midwest inform the work.

The show combines Issa’s ceramics, Salem’s woven textiles and the two artists’ shared thematic conceptualizations.

The pieces in the show evoke Arab domesticity, suggest the violent undertones of religion and acknowledge both the strictures and porousness of borders — between identities, religions and lands.

Cut & Paste logo current summer 2018

Look for new Cut & Paste podcasts every few weeks on our website. You can also find all previous podcasts focusing on a diverse collection of visual and performing artists here.

The podcast is sponsored by JEMA Architects, Planners and Designers.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyDGoodwin  

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