Interactive Nashville Pop-up Exhibit Highlights Palestinian Culture

While the exhibit featured some of the region’s harrowing history, it primarily focused on celebrating Palestinian culture through clothing, music, poetry, food and art.

Interactive Nashville Pop-up Exhibit Highlights Palestinian Culture
Attendees mingle while browsing display boards at the a pop-up exhibit in Nashville, Tenn. on Jan. 6. Photo source: Nicole Hester, The Tennessean

Last weekend, an interactive pop-up exhibit called "A Walk Through Palestine" attracted over 700 attendees to the Islamic Center of Nashville. Organized by 615 Youth for Palestine, the exhibit covered the history of Palestine, from Roman occupation to the present day. The event featured 31 boards detailing the history and culture of Palestine, multimedia presentations, a 15-minute video and a table of Palestinian food.

"A Walk Through Palestine" began with a timeline of key events from the region’s history, such as the Ottoman occupation, the origins of the Zionist movement and the 1948 Nakba. The timeline included more recent events as well, following the first and second intifadas up to the current war in Gaza.

While the exhibit featured some of the region’s harrowing history, it primarily focused on celebrating Palestinian culture through clothing, music, poetry, food and art. The interactive experience aimed to offer a broader perspective of Palestinian life beyond the recent tragic events in Gaza. 

The exhibit aimed to educate and provide a deeper understanding, attracting community members who expressed appreciation for the informative and passionate presentation. Volunteers shared insights on thobes and the significance of the Kuffiyeh, creating a four-hour interactive experience that shed light on the positive aspects of Palestinian culture amid challenging times.

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Sara Ali, one of the founders of 615 Youth for Palestine, told Nashville’s WPLN that the goal of the event was to humanize Palestinians. “We live in Music City, and we know that culture, art, music, clothing, food resonate with people here,” she said. “It creates that connection between the Nashville Palestinian diaspora and the Nashville community at large.”

Ali’s co-founder at 615 Youth for Palestine, Amira Ayesh, elaborated that the exhibit is in part a reaction to the brutal images and videos of suffering in Gaza that have been present on many people’s social media feeds for months. “This pop-up was designed to contextualize what’s happening now, but also showcase the beauty and resilience of Palestinian art and culture,” Ayesh said. “We want people to look beyond the tragedy of the Palestinians. We want people to understand that we, at our core, are human and as people we love, we laugh, we write, we sing, we dance. We express ourselves through poetry, we express ourselves through film.”

The event received praise from several local leaders, including Metro Councilwoman At Large Zulfat Suara, who highlighted the importance of understanding how the conflict in Gaza affects the local community. “I hope people will understand that it’s not just something happening over there,” she told Nashville’s WKRN. “There’s [an] effect of it on people right here in Nashville, and I hope people will just learn to look at it, educate and then just empathize.” 

WKRN also reports that during the event, many attendees called for a cease-fire and increased humanitarian aid for those in the Gaza Strip.

Ali and Ayesh hope to organize similar events in the future, emphasizing the beauty and resilience of Palestinian art and culture. The Islamic Center of Nashville is set to host a presentation on Palestinian history called "Palestine 101: Past & Present" on Jan. 20.

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