September 11 Attacks

At LACMA, the horror of 9/11 through the eyes of a Muslim artist who found a different path

At LACMA, the horror of 9/11 through the eyes of a Muslim artist who found a different path

The evening of Sept. 11, 2001, had been like any other for Abdulnasser Gharem — until it wasn’t.

A self-taught artist and a young officer in the Saudi Arabian army, Gharem was relaxing at home in the city of Khamis Mushait, where he’d grown up with 11 siblings, when the yelling began. “Come here!” “Watch.” “Look at this!” The family anxiously crowded around the living room TV. The images of the World Trade Center collapsing were devastating to watch, the shock matched only by the news that eventually followed: Two of the hijackers were Gharem’s friends from high school.

“I was shocked, how could this be? It was like someone stopped the world...

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