Portland Art Museum announces major Islamic art exhibit for 2013
By D.K. Row, The Oregonian
An object scheduled to be in the forthcoming Islamic art show: Qurâ??an Manuscript Endowed as Waqf
The Portland Art Museum will be one of four museums to host a major exhibition on Islamic art over the next two years.
The exhibit, “Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges With the Arts of Islamic Culture,” is being organized by the Brigham Young University Museum of Art in Provo, Utah, and spans Islamic culture from the seventh century to the present. More than 250 artworks and artifacts from 40 collections in nine countries, including Kuwait, Morocco, Great Britain and the United States, will be featured in the show.
Brian Ferriso, the Portland museum’s executive director, says the show will include both high and low examples of art — from esteemed paintings to everyday items like drinking vessels.
“We haven’t done a show in this area before,” says Ferriso, adding that Islamic art carries some currency in the art world right now partly because the Metropolitan Museum of Art just reopened its Islamic art wing after several years of renovation. “And when you think about the context of our world — a post-9-11 world — and when you think of art as a cultural educator that frames different world perspectives, we need to do this show.”
Ferriso says he can’t recall the last time the museum presented or produced a major exhibit on Islamic art. But he hopes “Beauty” will initiate further discussion and interest in it.
In evaluating the museum’s holdings, Maribeth Graybill, the Portland museum’s curator of Asian art, says the definition of what comprises Islamic art isn’t always clear-cut.
She says the strictest definition of Islamic art is objects made to fulfill a specifically Islamic religious function. Under that definition, the Portland museum has just one work — a page of the Quran. “But if the question is about the museum’s commitment to art made in those parts of the world where Islam is the dominant faith, then the number expands greatly, to include about 60 Persian paintings and a growing collection of ceramics from Iran and Turkey.”
The show is being conceived and assembled by Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, a New York-based artist and Islamic art expert. Al Khemir, described by Ferriso as the show’s “driving force,” served as the founding director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.
The Brigham Young Museum is organizing the exhibit under Al Khemir’s direction. Funding for the project comes from multiple sources, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, private donors and federal agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts. Besides Brigham Young and the Portland museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Newark Museum are the other venues, so far, who’ve signed on to present the exhibit. SOURCE