[Visionaries in Craft] 99 Clay Vessels: The Muslim Women Storytelling Project

[Visionaries in Craft] 99 Clay Vessels: The Muslim Women Storytelling Project

Alison Kysia
Published on Thursday, July 7, 2022. This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of American Craft Magazine.
various handshaped earthtoned bowls arranged on brick steps

Photo by Dejah Greene.

Seeking a fresh way to honor and support women who have experienced Islamophobia, multimedia artist and educator Alison Kysia (right) crafted 99 differently shaped clay pots that represent asma al-husna, the 99 Beautiful Names of God in Islam. Pit firing produced distinctive fire marks on each. “Each is unique while also part of the whole,” she says, “and honoring that reality is the opposite of bigotry.”

The pots (above) have been exhibited in several venues, with accompanying workshops in which Muslim women produce artworks of their own inspired by stories of discrimination and resilience. The 99 Clay Vessels website, when complete, will display all the elements of the project.

Collaborating with Kysia are psychotherapist Sabrina N’Diaye, who facilitates the workshops; Homayra Ziad, an Islamic scholar, who is curating a collection of poetry; and artist/poet Sasa Aakil, working on a video of a vocal recitation of the names.

woman starting a fire in pit made from bricks

Photo by Kirsten Jacobson.

“Once the website is complete,” Kysia says, “I would love to organize a live recitation of the 99 names, with 99 Muslim women holding the 99 vessels. My intention has always been to serve Muslim women activists and advocates and creatives and to sculpt for them a vessel to do what art does for me, which is to remind me that as long as I am alive, I have the power to transform. That power is what keeps me alive spiritually.”

99clayvessels.com | @786arts

Discover More Inspiring Organizations in Our Magazine

Become a member to get a subscription to American Craft magazine and experience the work of artists who are defining the craft movement today.

Join To Get Your Subscription

stack of four issues of american craft with the summer 2022 issue on top