The Muezzin: A Reflection

The Muezzin, 1865. Jean-Léon Gérôme. French, 1824–1904. Oil on Canvas. Bequest of Francis T.B. Martin, 1995.37. Housed at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, USA

I search for myself in art; I come to every piece as a whole person, with all the parts of my intersecting identities intact. Sometimes, one or more parts bubble up more than others, and when I study this painting, my Islamic faith rises to the top first, and my identity as an East African immigrant who lives in Omaha, Nebraska is a close second. The artist, Jean-Léon Gérôme, was a non-Muslim Frenchman whose first encounter with Islam was…