FERESHTEH DAFTARI: I’m Fereshteh Daftari, curator of Without Boundary, and I’d like to welcome you to this exhibition. As someone who comes from Iran, I am fascinated by how art from that part of the world is perceived in the United States. Sometimes it’s categorized as “Islamic”— a term invented in Europe in the 19th century to describe the art of a vast region stretching all the way from Indonesia to Morocco.
The exhibition questions the validity of that term when applied to the work of contemporary artists such as those you will see in this show. That is to say, artists who come from the Islamic world and who live mostly in the US and in Europe. I have included pieces by two Western artists here as well. They deal with Islamic themes or motifs – highlighting the difficulty of making origin a defining factor in considering art.
In the exhibition, I look at the relationship of the works to Islamic aesthetic traditions, including calligraphy, carpets, and miniature paintings. I also consider issues of identity and spirituality. On this tour, you’ll hear from six of these artists in their own words. In listening to them, I think, what becomes apparent is how their artistic individuality finally triumphs over any attempt to categorize them.
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