Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Student Picks: Lo! Medieval Muslim & Christian Art

Student Picks is a SCMA program in which Smith students organize their own one-day art show using our collection of works on paper. This month’s student curator and guest blogger Khadejeh Al-Rijleh '16 discusses her show “Lo! Medieval Muslim and Christian Art” which will be on view THIS FRIDAY, March 7 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here!

Unknown. Missal Page, ca. 1285. Simple leaf on vellum. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1951:295

Choosing the theme for my Students Picks show was not difficult.  I knew that I wanted my show to have the coolest objects in the collection.  The coolest objects are the oldest ones.  And many of the oldest works on paper in the Cunningham Center are, unsurprisingly, religious manuscripts.

Iranian (Persian). Joseph Bathing in the Nile, late 16th-early 17th century. Opaque water base colors and gold on paper with gold border. Gift of Mrs. Evan M. Wilson (Leila Fosburgh, class of 1934). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1990:2-26

My favorite thing about religious art is that it is not art for art’s sake. I decided to feature religious texts and photographs of buildings because unlike other artistic mediums such as drawings or paintings, their primary function is something other than being awe-inspiring and compelling to look at. Rather, their purpose is practical – in this case the manuscripts are sources of knowledge and the mosques and churches in the photographs are sites for religious affairs.

Detail of Joseph Bathing in the Nile

Thanks to Maggie and the Cunningham Center for making this show possible.  Thank you also to the unnamed artists, artisans, scribes, workers, and all who made the beautiful manuscripts and buildings in the photographs.

Underwood & Underwood. The prayer-niche (S.E. toward Mecca), tomb-mosque of Kait Bey, Cairo, Egypt, no date. Stereograph. Bequest of Henry Latimer Seaver. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:26-151

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