Muslim Culture Mural: Portals to Peace
Ithaca is a vibrant place where values of liberalism, compassion and artistry reflect off from the innumerous murals located in the nooks and crannies of this city. One such painting is the Muslim Culture Mural in downtown Ithaca which is gradually coming to life with the support of the local community. On Sunday mornings, APO volunteers walk down to the Green Street parking garage and pick up paint brushes along with tiny four-year-old locals as well as wonderful seniors to send out a strong message of love and acceptance. Islamophobia has been on the rise in recent years and this mural, designed by Lachlan Chambliss, gives people an opportunity to think about the beautiful elements of Islam and celebrate the people living here for decades.
The 50 foot by 16 foot mural depicts five arched doorways, each drawing attention to a different scene. The doorways highlight the five pillars of Islam as well as the diversity of the Muslim community in Ithaca. There is a market scene celebrating West African culture, and the act of giving charity. Another window is filled with mountains and valleys showing the beauty of the Middle East and a journey of faith. The center window is the base of the faith in a higher power and scenes of Asia, and a reflection of the effort to disconnect from our daily routines reflect from another doorway. And finally, the fifth window has a European picnic basket, representing sharing and the body as a vessel of peace.
The most beautiful aspect of this service event was seeing the various community members of Ithaca come together to create something beautiful for their Muslim neighbors. As an APO volunteer, I got a great opportunity to leave the Cornell campus and learn more about this wonderful city. The service event surely involved painting, but the usage of stencils and shapes allowed me to contribute even with my questionable artistic skills. Some members took on their fear of heights and climbed the tall ladders to color the upper section of the mural. On the whole, I have immensely enjoyed being part of this and I’m looking forward to going again this coming weekend.