One would think that San Diego, being among America’s most ethnically diverse cities, has seen it all. However, on a balmy September evening, one of the Liberty Station barracks, usually, home to Women’s Museum of California, found itself completely transformed into a little-known part of the world even in this city-one of mysterious Central Asian countries-Uzbekistan.
Vintage hand embroidered suzanis (“needle-work blanket” as translated from Farsi) adorned the walls of the museum, melancholic sounds of a two stringed dutar -an ancient Uzbek music instrument could be heard in the gardens outside of the barracks, delicious traditional snacks either brought directly from Uzbekistan or hand made locally by an Uzbek chef were tasted, stories watched and heard, friendships made, cultural boundaries and stereotypes hopefully overcome. A completely sold-out show - “Women of Central Asia in Art night” has indeed been a success!
The colorful event is a love child of a social initiative known as the “Blue Pomegranate” founded by Anna Nasirova and Feruza Abdullaeva, two Central Asia natives currently residing in San Diego.
“BP”’s main goal is introducing San Diego audiences to the realm of women of Central Asia (and beyond in future events) through series of cultural events. Central Asia stretches from the Caspian Sea in the West, to China in the East and from Afghanistan in the South, to Russia in the North. It is also colloquially referred to as “the stans”, a region little known in the US.Every major religion has passed through this area, such as Buddhism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, etc. Every artistic media, like sculptures, ceramics, cave paintings, has also flourished in the region. And while the women of Central Asia have played a vital role in preservation and evolution of art forms in the region, little credit is given to them, and little is known about them.“Blue Pomegranate” wants to motivate all women, regardless of age, ethnicity, race and nationality to keep expressing themselves, be it through art or other venues.They offer series of cultural immersion style events-virtual windows into the different regions of the world, by showcasing the work and life of female professionals and change makers in the fields of art.First event of the series took the audience on an audio-visual journey to witness the lives and creations of a film maker, a fine artist, a fashion designer, a jeweler and a photographer, all originally from Uzbekistan.
A special guest of honor, Dr. Tanya Merchant, an ethnomusicologist and an Associate Professor at Santa Cruz University and a long-time admirer and student of dutar, performed for the audience in a traditional atlas (Uzbek silk) dress and was heard chatting away in fluent Uzbek, to everyone’s surprise and delight.
What was truly endearing was to see a beautifully diverse audience, that the event managed to attract. Guests, originally from all over the world and those native to San Diego came together to support and welcome an emerging community. And that was a beautiful sight indeed.For more info about this event and “Blue Pomegranate”’s future activities, feel free to check their Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/bluepomegranatesd/By Feruza Abdullaeva