Sham-E-Ali Nayeem & Qais Essar



Now You See Us was music and poetry showcase presented in partnership with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, taking place on the precipice of the anniversary of 1947 Partition. The performances explored Central and South Asian American narratives that are routinely marginalized within the broader cultural landscape of the United States. Through individual and collaborative performances at the intersections of personal and collective history, artists highlighted themes such as Muslim folklore, mysticism, healing and diasporic connection in the context of global history.  This program’s goal was to take culture from the fringes to the front, in order for audiences to come away with a greater understanding about the formation of diasporic identity, as well as Central and South Asian American experiences.


About the Artists

Qais Essar is a contemporary Afghan composer, instrumentalist and producer who channels his melodic designs through the rabab, a 2,500 year old instrument from Afghanistan. He has toured extensively, sharing his new genre of music nationally and internationally.

Sham-e-Ali Nayeem is a Philadelphia based poet and visual artist. A former public interest lawyer supporting economic justice for survivors of family and intimate partner violence, Sham-e-Ali’s poetry is widely published in various publications and anthologies.

The Sanctuaries activates artists of different racial, religious, and artistic backgrounds to build power, shift culture, and heal spirits for the wellness of the people.