Visitors to Westbury Arts through much of August will be able to geta taste of Islam culture in works ranging from an ivory model of the Taj Mahal to a papier-mâché vase from Kashmir, calligraphy from various centuries and various creations by contemporary artists.
Thanks to a partnership with the Islamic Center of Long Island, about 50 pieces will be on display in “The Arts of Islam: Ritual, Beauty, Pattern” at Westbury Arts through Aug. 28.
“The art is loaned by individuals in the community,” said Daisy Khan, principal curator. “People lent collections of personal art that express their beliefs, traditions and cultures.”
The Islamic Center of Long Island set up an art committee that reached out through email, social media and phone calls to Long Island Muslim artists for submissions and to community members to loan art.
WHAT "The Arts of Islam: Ritual, Beauty, Pattern"
WHEN | WHERE Through Aug. 28, Westbury Arts, 255 Schenck Ave.
INFO 3-7 p.m. Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 516-400-2787, westburyarts.org, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Gradually, people started telling us they had some works,” Khan added, noting they received roughly 70 pieces. “We asked them to submit a photo of work for consideration.”
They also reached out to artists in the New York City metropolitan area, looking for work and, in particular, calligraphy. “It’s a traditional form of art,” Khan said, adding “that the revival of traditional calligraphy is quietly being led by women artists in the New York area.”
Dr. Faroque Khan, Daisy Khan’s uncle and a board member and past president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, feels at home at the exhibit. He lent a papier-mâché vase that ordinarily stands in the entrance of his Jericho house.
“Every home has some kind of calligraphy, pattern, carpets. There’s a huge Moroccan rug that was brought in yesterday,” said Dr. Khan, a retired pulmonologist. “Different people from different parts of the world are donating part of their culture.”
A FACE OF ISLAMIC FAITH
While art exhibits by definition are about artwork, Dr. Khan said this display is designed to be a way to view Islamic art across the centuries and from around the world.
“It’s a lot more than just looking at a piece of art,” Dr. Khan added. “I feel it’s a great opportunity for the Muslims of Long Island to present a different face of the Islamic faith.”
Julie Lyon, president of Westbury Arts, said Lyn Dobrin, a member of the group’s publicity and marketing committee, suggested they work with the Islamic Center of Long Island on an art exhibit
“We thought that was a fantastic idea,” Lyon said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to show contemporary works alongside ancient works and works more historical in nature. It makes for a really rich exhibition.”
Westbury Arts received a $5,000 grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Huntington Arts Council, for its “Be the Color of This World” to celebrate diversity.
“This exhibit came up. It wasn’t part of our grant proposal. We felt it fit in nicely with our other diversity programming,” Lyon added. “It’s an interesting way to explore something many people might not be familiar with.”
No money from the grant went toward this exhibit, which hadn’t been included in the application. The majority of the funding instead came from the Islamic Center of Long Island and its members, Daisy Khan said.
Westbury Arts is providing the venue, printing the catalog and cards with each work of art and providing other support.
A TRIO OF THEMES
The exhibit is divided into three themes, with miniature art depicting “aspects of beauty imbued with faith,” Daisy Khan said. The “ritual” component depicts Quranic manuscripts, prayer beads and a lithograph of the Kaaba, in Mecca, the holiest site in Islam. “Pattern” is shown in “repetitious configurations that cover the surface without providing a definitive narrative,” she added.
Architecture is represented in the form of paintings of buildings and a miniature model of the Taj Mahal, 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches, that was hand carved and chiseled from ivory.
Local artists are represented, giving a contemporary aspect to the exhibit. Nayyar Iqbal, 47, of Levittown, a painter who was born in Pakistan and moved to the United States in 1999, has four works in the show.
“I love to do urban areas, streets,” she said. “It’s something talking to me, the streets and people.”
Her “City with the Minarets,” completed this year, shows the rooftops of “her city,” Lahore, Pakistan. “I was born, grew up and did my studies there,” Iqbal said. “We used to do so many activities on rooftops. I love to see the sky from the top of the houses. I miss the minarets of my country, my place, my city.”
While the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Islamic arts collection includes more than 15,000 objects, this exhibit is close to home for many Long Islanders.
“We wanted to educate and enlighten and bring wonderful works of art to the community in a way that will bring people together and break down barriers,” Lyon said. “It’s an interesting way to explore something many people might not be familiar with."