Katonah Museum of Art Explores Visual Traditions of Islam

In Katonah Museum of Art’s current exhibition, thirty-one artists of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent draw from centuries-old forms, such as calligraphy and geometric patterning, to examine contemporary subjects of religion, politics and identity. More than 50 works showcased in Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and the Islamic Tradition demonstrate that history does not sit in the past. Instead, it informs the present and is inherited by future generations.

These visual traditions of Islam provide contemporary artists with a way in which to address their current experiences. On using traditional forms in her work, artist Shahzia Sikander said in the exhibition’s catalogue: “I recognized it as a path to expanding the medium [of miniature painting] from within… in order to open up possibilities for dialogue.” Artist Shoja Azari redefines the historical definitions of the political and religious hero by redefining traditional posters with women’s faces instead of men’s. Artist Baseera Khan combines symbols that represent Islam with those referenced by gay activists during the AIDS epidemic. These and other exhibiting artists embrace and reject traditions, adapting them into an engagement with issues of modern relevance.

While the exhibition is on view, through June 17, the Museum will present various programs that respond to topics referenced in the exhibited works. On March 10, a teen workshop includes an exhibition tour and hands-on arts activities with a master calligrapher. On March 25, “Family Day” celebrates the Persian New Year, which marks the beginning of spring. Families will view performances of classical Persian dance and music, as well as artistic demonstrations of Iranian calligraphy, miniature painting and mosaic crafting. For more info, visit katonahmuseum.org.

A version of this article first appeared in the March issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

Similar Posts