Friday, August 10, 2007

Creating a peaceful world

It is a hopeful title for this piece, 'creating a peaceful world.' Yet, I felt hope grow as I surfed the net and saw examples of Eastern art that touched my heart and soul. Art whose beauty made me smile or wistfully wish I could create something so exquisite.

Today I saw ways we can find common ground in this Eastern vs Western civilizations face-off.

The Aga-Kahn, leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Shia Muslims and organizer of this art exhibit, believes that art can become "a medium of discourse that transcends barriers".

"The essential problem, as I see it, in relations between the Muslim world and the West is a clash of ignorance," he said in a recent speech.

He has allowed the The Spirit & Life exhibition, Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum Collection, to be displayed at London's Ismaili Centre until August 31.

Once Westerners see the beauty of Islamic art, we realize that our love of beauty and nature draws us close together. We see that we don't create art so differently. We draw on the same forms, icons, and skills. Many of the materials we use in the West, originated in the East. Textile artists realize that the very fabrics they enjoy -- cotton, organza, mohair, seersucker-- have names that come from Arabic and Persian languages.

has played a vital part in Islamic sacred circles since it is used to recreate copies of the Qur'an. Our Western history tells of monks sequestered in small rooms painstakingly creating illuminated texts of the Christian Bible.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Ar
t has a collection of Islamic art, textiles, and architecture where you can enter this complex culture in a comfortable zone of beauty and familiar images. Both East and West embrace poetry, words, color, harmony and beauty. These form a sturdy foundation to build upon.

We can create peace, one art object at a time. Understanding will come if we let it, if we look for common ties.

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