Looking at Art

When I am in Houston, I challenge myself to explore what this sprawling city has to offer. Believe me, there is no end to what can be discovered.

A few days ago I went to an Islamic Arts Festival, and what an eye opener it was. Not only was it a showcase for art created by those who live in the Muslim world, it was an effort by the organizers to promote understanding of a culture and to bring the greater Houston community together. One could not ask for more as art is a common language among many cultures.

Islamic art dates back to the 7th century and no matter when or where it has been created, it has basic similarities. Interestingly, no human figures are depicted as it is feared by many Muslims that this is idolatry which is a sin. Typical are the use of interlacing and geometric patterns. Here, the artist painted his background and then used only Q tips to create the complex pattern.

In addition to paintings ceramics and tiles are common in Islamic art. Both functional and decorative, they are adorned with calligraphy and arabesque designs.

Particularly interesting is metalwork which uses practical objects that are decorated with dense arabesque patterns. This was a favorite piece which the artist described as depicting the places she had lived after leaving Pakistan. In each she had found home, and now she feels that her heart is here. She went on to explain that in her country, many truck drivers spend a good part of a year’s salary decorating their vehicle in such a manner.

Stopping to talk with the various artists provided wonderful insight into a culture about which I wish to know more. To my surprise, I came home with this piece which is not as richly detailed with typical images but has it’s own wonderful story. It is made from circles cut from another painting. It is meant to show that while we are all very much alike there are differences. The beautiful young woman who is the artist went on to tell me she did the piece while going through a heartbreaking divorce. What got her through was her faith symbolized by the painting’s central image of the Kaaba which is the most sacred site in Islam. Located in Saudi Arabia, it is where Muslims are required to perform the Hajj at least once if they are able. I hope that by purchasing her creation I have helped her be one step closer to making the pilgrimage.

Through art one can learn so much, and the Islamic Arts Festival is stunning proof. I am grateful to live in a city where there is such cultural diversity.

16 thoughts on “Looking at Art

  1. I heard on television recently that Houston has become the most diverse city in the country. (I don’t know who determined that; I would’ve assumed New York.)

    1. I think most diverse means the most cultures represented. Goodness knows, Houston has many which is one of the things that makes it interesting. Even better is how well all are tolerated.

  2. Houston is definitely a diverse and fascinating city. I really enjoyed reading about this experience and the personal conversations you had with the artists explaining your work. I know you will stop and think everytime you see this powerful piece in your home.

    1. You are right about Houston which is why I’m determined to explore more of it. Stay tuned!

  3. How fabulous that you went! And you own a piece of incredible art. Great post!

    1. Thank you. It was a wonderful adventure.

  4. entertainingwomen November 20, 2019 — 11:47 pm

    So interesting. I’ve long been fascinated by the numerous geometrical designs found in middle eastern art. I think it’s intriguing that the picture you bought seemed to have begun as an impressionistic or abstract piece, but she cut into a basic geometric shape, circles, to create her final presentation. Also, I wondered if painting a statue of a woman is considered different than painting the human figure of a woman…or maybe she just was more westernized in her art. I’m kind of surprised you didn’t buy that first piece on the red background. It reminded me of your aesthetic when you design some of your tablescapes. Thought it might have looked good in your dining room.

    1. Thank you, Cherry Kay, for your wonderful comment. I’m thinking the Statue of Liberty (is that the image you referred to) is symbolic of where she has found home. You made me smile with your comments about the painting done of the red background. I did like the Q tip pieces as they were colorful and had considerable texture. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  5. What an interesting experience. Beautiful art. I love the clothes the ladies are wearing.

    1. My friend and I may have been the only women there in western garb. While there were some beautiful garments, most women were attired in more practical pieces that are likely worn every day.

  6. Amazing art and thank you Linda for sharing!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed adventuring with me.

  7. So interesting. I am happy you shared this experience.

    1. I learned something new which is always a good thing.

  8. My favorite posting of yours yet. Congratulations on owning a wonderful piece!

    1. Thanks,Laura. You would have enjoyed the outing.

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