Middle Eastern North African Student Association recognized for their Block collaboration

The Block is excited to congratulate the Middle Eastern North African (MENA) Student Association on their Winter 2023 Wildcat Impact Award. The Wildcat Impact Awards are given quarterly by the Office of Student Affairs to honor and recognize students and student organizations who have contributed to bettering student life, campus engagement and inclusivity at Northwestern. Award recipients are celebrated with a banner in the Norris University Center and an invitation to the Wildcat Excellence Awards ceremony at the end of the academic year.

The MENA Student Association was nominated for its exemplary work collaborating with The Block on the museum’s presentation of its Fall 2022 exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s-1980s. Comprising nearly 90 works by artists from countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Taking Shape explored abstract art from North Africa, West Asia and the Arab diaspora in the mid-20th century.

The Block’s collaboration with the MENA SA included a co-sponsored musical performance at by music ensemble East Loop and promotion of the exhibition through interviews for local media. Alongside the exhibition, The Block held further programming that included gallery talks and a guided tour for the MENA SA.

“We worked closely with the MENA Student Association on the Block Museum’s presentation of our Fall 2022 exhibition, “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s – 1980s.” We reached out to MENA SA about the exhibition over the summer, and Sara Ibrahim (president) was immediately receptive and enthusiastic. Throughout the entire exhibition, we took great care to warmly welcome the membership of MENA to the exhibition, and to our public programming. They co-sponsored a musical performance at the Block by the Chicago-based Middle Eastern music ensemble East Loop, and coordinated a private, student-led tour of the exhibition before joining us for the performance. Sara and her peers helped to boost and share the exhibition broadly, including by offering interviews for local media about their experience at the museum and personally greeting Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation, when he visited campus.”

– Erin Northington, Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director, Campus and Community Education and Engagement

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