Project dates
July 22 – September 16, 2023
The Bows
2001b 10 Ave SW
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Community Celebration and Presentation with Abdi Roble
Friday, July 21, 2023, 6–8pm
Somali Canadian Society of Calgary
3940 29 Street Northeast

Opening Reception:
Saturday, July 22, 2023, 2–4pm
The Bows

Diinsi Abuur is an exhibition of new, abstract works by Minneapolis-based Somali diaspora artists Kaamil A. Haider, Khadijah Muse, and Mohamud Mumin. Their artistic practices are driven by a common urge to comprehend their histories, embracing Somali art history among other sources of cultural knowledge. As Somali art history (as a coherent narrative) has become fragmented due to the large waves of migration and diaspora since the 1990s, each artist presents a distinct perspective on this history through the lens of their hybrid identities.

In Diinsi Abuur, Haider, Muse, and Mumin look to the fluidity of abstraction, with its myriad entry points, to transcend literal representation and conventional narrative, in pursuit of an engagement with history guided by complex ideas and emotions.

Drawing inspiration from the Somali term Abuur, meaning to plant, the artists intimate the act of planting a seed after meticulous preparation in their artworks, which emerge through different stages of ideation, research, production, and ultimately the act of sharing with a community, now or in the future. Philosophically, these works will coalesce in their interaction with an audience, in parallel to the activation of Abuur by the forces of nature. Abuur symbolizes the boundless possibilities of this exhibition and the connections that have already taken root, across Canada and the United States. 

Diinsi (Balanophoraceae) is a resilient plant revered for its healing properties in many cultures. Ground finely, Diinsi is often transformed into a gastronomic elixir. For Haider, Muse, and Mumin, Diinsi was often used in their homes as a substitute for conventional Western medicine by their mothers. Its invocation in this exhibition honours their concept of home and the cherished memories it resides in.

Diinsi Abuur is curated by Godfre Leung.

Related works by all three artists are also on longterm view at the Somali Canadian Society of Calgary, 3940 29th St. NE.

Kaamil A. Haider is a visual artist, graphic designer, and archivist. Through his practices, he researches the nuanced relationships between objects, shared meanings, and the heritage of contemporary Somali art, with a particular focus on language and memory. Kaamil incorporates diverse cultural, archival, and oral references in his work.

Kaamil holds a Master’s degree in Heritage Studies & Public History and BFA in graphic design from College of Design, University of Minnesota. He is the recipient of many prestigious awards, fellowships, and grants, and currently teaches at Augsburg University. 

Khadijah Muse is a visual artist and arts organizer based in Minneapolis. Her practice is greatly influenced by her commitment to community building. Khadijah uses art as a tool to explore interpersonal and environmental relationships using various mediums, including photography, woodworking, sculpture, and installation.

Understanding the power of art, Khadijah facilitates opportunities for other Somali artists to optimize their artistic potential. She is the director of Soomaal House of Art. 

Khadijah holds a BS in Sociology from the University of Minnesota. She was a 2019 Soomaal Fellow, an initiative by Soomaal House of Art in partnership with Augsburg University Art Gallery, and an Art(ists) On the Verge Fellow with Northern in 2020.

Mohamud Mumin
is an artist and curator at Soomaal House of Art. His artistic pursuits cover a diverse range of mediums, including but not limited to photography, experimental film, installation, painting, and sculpture. A recipient of many awards, Mumin’s work has been exhibited in community spaces, galleries, and museums in the United States and abroad.

Collectively Kaamil A. Haider, Khadijah Muse, and Mohamud Mumin are co-founders of Soomaal House of Art. Soomaal House of Art is a Minnesota-based Somali artist collective that works with students and emerging and established artists to find artistic community, mentorships, and opportunities. It provides a platform for Somali visual artists around the world who want to create and use art to shape and frame critical discourse around vexing local and global issues of our time. Presently, the facilitators of Soomaal House of Art’s diverse programs also include Khadija Charif, Wasima Farah, and Muna Scekomar.

Abdi Roble is the Founder and Executive Director of the Somali Documentary Project and a multi award winning documentary photographer and community archivist who has exhibited internationally. Abdi has worked for over a decade to document Somali migration globally. He is currently working on an archive based on his documentary photography work and collection of historical manuscripts, postcards and photographs of Somalis around the globe in the past century.

Along with writer Doug Rutledge, his book The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2008.

Godfre Leung
is an art critic and the curator at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. He has most recently organized exhibitions by Dionne Lee and Sesemiya at CAG, as well as TJ Shin: The Vegetarian (The Bows, 2022), Offsite: Christopher K. Ho (Vancouver Art Gallery, 2022), Guesthood and Alienhood: Sun Yung Shin, Jinny Yu, Republic of the Other (Hotam Press Gallery, 2021), and Pao Houa Her: Emplotment (Or Gallery, 2020). His writing has recently appeared in ArtAsiaPacific, ASAP/Journal, C Magazine, and ReIssue. He was the artistic director at The Bows, 2021–2022.