Posts Tagged 'Islamic Art'

The Artful Overlapping of Old and Modern Iran

A work by Houston-based Iranian-American artist Soody Sharifi is now on view in the Keir Collection of Islamic Art Gallery. Courtly Love, an archival inkjet print from 2007, is an adaptation of a 15th-century painting in the Keir Collection. The original painting is an illustration of a tale from the Khamsa of Nizami, a collection of five tragic love poems. It depicts a scene from the romance of the Iranian king Khusraw and Armenian princess Shirin. Drunk and guilty of an amorous tryst, Khusraw has arrived at Shirin’s palace on horseback. Shirin, peering out from a window, is counseled by an older woman and refuses him entry. The scene is witnessed by a variety of attendants, including three scribes holding poetic manuscripts below. A darker mood is also present; anxious angels who know the inevitable tragic outcome of the story hover at upper left, while two gardeners with golden shovels foreshadow the twin graves in which the lovers will lie for eternity.

Khusraw at Shirin’s Palace, painting from a manuscript of Nizami’s Khamsa, last quarter of the 15th century, ink, colors and gold on paper, The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the DMA, K.1.2014.738

Courtly Love is one of a series of works that Sharifi has termed “Maxiatures,” a play on the term “miniatures” that is commonly used to describe the small format of Islamic book paintings. Sharifi’s works are large. For them, she has selected well-known examples of architectural paintings that illustrate Persian literary classics, such as the Khamsa, to serve as a basis for adaptation through the addition of new figures taken from photography. She also works with the architectural elements in the original image, changing their scale and contents. In this work, some of the original painted figures have vanished, and those that remain become unwitting bystanders to a new cast of figures inserted into the scene: contemporary, young Iranians, mainly women, going about daily tasks. These include making a call at a phone booth, jumping rope, playing with a hula-hoop, painting toenails, installing a satellite dish, and looking over the balustrades and through windows. Three young men speak to the women from outside the garden walls—the circumscribed formalities of courtly love referenced in the title of the work, and perhaps referring to the themes of the original painting.

Soody Sharifi, Courtly Love, 2007, archival inkjet print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Richard and Glen de Unger in gratitude to Walter Elcock for his attentiveness and support for the Keir Collection, 2018.40

Sharifi’s work appears to be concerned with issues of dual identities, of a past and present that is especially acute for Iranians of her generation who were exiled by the revolution of 1979. Given that the figures in her works are young, this may represent the nostalgia of young Iranians today who still live in proximity to the elegant palaces and gardens depicted in historical paintings, perhaps inhabited now only by ghosts, like the figures in 15th-century paintings. Her concern with dualities—of language, of national identity, of traditions and contemporary technologies, of political tensions—seems to be present in this work, where contemporaneity hovers over a past that can no longer be reached. Certainly, there is also a sense of humor—it is clever and funny to see modern people in these poetical constructs.

Soody Sharifi’s work is displayed in the Keir Collection Gallery alongside the painting that inspired it so that the public can appreciate her interventions, decode her intentions, and enjoy the presence of both works of art at once. Join Sharifi in person as she shares insights into Courtly Love at our next Late Night on February 15.

Heather Ecker is The Marguerite S. Hoffman and Thomas W. Lentz Curator of Islamic and Medieval Art at the DMA.

 

Installing 13 Centuries in One Gallery

Art is on the move with less than a week to go before the Museum’s permanent gallery space dedicated to the long-term loan of the Keir Collection of Islamic Art opens on Tuesday, April 18. The largest public presentation of this renowned collection will feature works that range from rock crystal to metalwork, ceramics, textiles, carpets, and works on paper.

 

Cross-Cultural Connections

Hi, I’m Taylor Strander, a senior from McKinney Boyd High School and a DMA Teen Advisory Council member. As the school year draws to a close and graduation looms near, I thought it was a perfect time to reflect on my busy year at the DMA! I have spent a great part of my school year exploring the DMA collection and collaborating with staff on a project for my ISM class.

What is ISM? ISM stands for Interdisciplinary Study and Mentorship – a program specifically designed for high school students who have an idea of the career they want to explore beyond high school. The goal of the class is to develop interpersonal and networking skills in the hopes of obtaining a mentor that can offer their expertise in the creation of a final product. As someone interested in studying art history in college, I immediately sought to find a mentor who worked in a museum and was immersed in art every day. I distinctly remember growing quite fond of the DMA after my first visit with my elementary school class, and since then I have seized every opportunity to learn more about the Museum by participating in the Teen Docent Program and serving as a Community Engagement Volunteer.

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Due to my prior experience, I thought it would be most fitting to select a mentor from the place that catalyzed my passion for art. So I began my weekly commute to the DMA to meet and brainstorm with my mentors, Jessica Thompson and Whitney Sirois, on my final project for the class. Working with them has offered me a deeper understanding of the field of museum education and has strengthened my desire to pursue a career in a museum one day. My final project turned out to be something greater than I ever could have imagined and best of all, it is something that can be implemented in the Museum today.

So, what did I create? In order to gain a better grasp on the role of a museum educator, I designed my very own Bite-Sized Tour and Art-to-Go Family Tote Bag complete with four different activities.

During my first meeting with Jessica and Whitney, I was inspired by the DMA’s exhibition Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, which features a variety of Islamic works from the internationally renowned Keir Collection. It was important to me to reference this collection for my project because Islamic art seems to be misunderstood and its influence on global cultures is often forgotten. After some heavy research, I used my newfound knowledge of Islamic art to create a Bite-Sized Tour entitled “Cross-Cultural Connections.” This guide highlights Islamic works and directly compares them to other objects in the DMA’s permanent collection in an effort to encourage visitors to notice similar qualities or influences across cultures.

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The second component of my final project is an Art-to-Go Family Tote Bag, which is meant to reinforce visitors’ understanding of Islamic art through different activities that highlight specific artistic elements. Family Tote Bags are great because they offer fun, on-the-go activities for a variety of different age groups and learning styles. For the tote bag, I came up with four separate activities – write, make, draw, and talk.

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The writing activity asks visitors to reference Islamic calligraphy to create their own epic poem. The make activity allows visitors to make their own astrolabe, a navigational tool that revolutionized Islamic culture. The drawing activity invites people to design their own geometric patterns inspired by Islamic textiles and ceramics. Finally, the talk activity encourages visitors to discuss Islamic art influences within the Museum’s permanent collection. Islam’s holy month of Ramadan has just begun, so take a moment to explore the many connections you can make to this world religion and its artistic traditions on your next visit to the Museum.

A special thank you to my mentors, Jessica and Whitney, for giving a young person like me an invaluable experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Your words of wisdom and constant support will not be soon forgotten. And finally, thank you to the DMA for transforming before my eyes into a place that I know all too well, a place that feels like home.

Taylor Strander
Teen Advisory Council Member

Opening Night: Spirit and Matter

Tomorrow Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art opens during our September fall block party Late Night. Huffington Post ranked it at #1 among “need to see” art shows this fall and it is a “Critic’s Pick” in The Dallas Morning News. This morning, exhibition curator and DMA Senior Advisor for Islamic Art Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir shared a sneak peek of the exhibition with national press.

Be among the first to see these intricately decorated objects spanning numerous centuries and continents tomorrow night and join Dr. Al Khemir for a talk on the works of art at 7:00 p.m.

 

Highlights of Light

It’s the final week to visit the DMA-co-organized exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, on view through Sunday, June 29. The acclaimed exhibition, which features more than 150 objects from ten centuries, highlights rare and beautiful examples of the rich heritage of the Islamic world and the influences and contributions it has made to cultures throughout history.

 

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Culinary Canvas: Almond Cookies (Nan-e Badami)

This month’s recipe is inspired by our current exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, which explores Islamic art and science throughout the centuries and around the world. Several beautifully decorated pieces of pottery can be found in the exhibition, including this striking bowl from Kashan, located in modern Iran. The Persian Empire spanned this area during ancient times and its cultural thread has continued, influencing food in the region today. In fact, Persians were one of the first to produce sugar and create recipes for cookies–some dating back to the 12th century–and sweets remain an important part of Persian celebrations today. Try this simple Persian recipe to add an interesting new flavor to your cookie repertoire and then be sure to stop by the Museum before Nur closes next month!

Blue and White Bowl with Radial Design, 13th Century , Iran, Kashan, fritware, painted in cobalt blue under transparent glaze, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas S. Brush, Brooklyn, USA

Blue and White Bowl with Radial Design, 13th Century , Iran, Kashan, fritware, painted in cobalt blue under transparent glaze, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas S. Brush, Brooklyn, USA

Almond Cookies

Yields about 60 cookies
Level: Very Easy

5 egg yolks
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tablespoons rosewater (optional, can be purchased at Middle Eastern markets)
2 cups finely ground almonds or almond flour
2 teaspoons cardamom
½ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 250° F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat yolks and sugar at medium speed until light. Add rosewater if desired.

In a separate bowl, stir together almond flour, cardamom, and baking powder. Slowly add almond mixture to mixer, stirring on low speed and scraping down sides of bowl until fully incorporated. Resulting dough should be slightly sticky.

To form cookies, scoop off about a teaspoon of dough then roll between hands to shape into a ball. Flatten ball between palms and place on baking sheet. Bake about 25 minutes, watching closely to ensure cookies do not brown.

When removed from oven, cookies will look very soft and should remain so at room temperature. Allow to cool on baking sheet then transfer to metal rack to cool completely.


 
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Recipe adapted from Food of Life: A Book of Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

Educator Resources: Islamic Culture

Quran Bifolio, Tunisia, Qayrawan, late 9th – early 10th century , vellum, ink, gold, silver, and blue dye, Furusiyya Art Foundation, Vaduz, Photo © Noel Adams

Quran Bifolio, Tunisia, Qayrawan, late 9th – early 10th century , vellum, ink, gold, silver, and blue dye, Furusiyya Art Foundation, Vaduz, Photo © Noel Adams

We are thrilled to present Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World at the DMA through June 29. The exhibition explores light in Islamic culture–in the physical and metaphysical sense–through both secular and sacred works, produced in places from Spain to Asia, dating from the 7th century to the 21st. The Islamic world is vast, and the diversity of cultures embraced by Islam is rich. To assist you in teaching about Islamic culture, we’ve pulled together some useful online resources:

9th-10th century, Iraq, luster-painted, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., Brooklyn, USA

Bowl with bird, 9th-10th century, Iraq, luster-painted, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., Brooklyn, USA

Andrea Severin Goins
Interpretation Specialist


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