Al-Andalusia: Pardes/Paradise has been exhibited at the Borland Gallery of the Silverton Arts Association in Silverton, Oregon in 2011, at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery of the Palestine Center in Washington, D.C. in 2012 and at the Interfaith Community Sanctuary in Ballard, Washington in 2013.
The exhibit comprised 11 paintings in acrylic and metal leaf on paper and eight hanging odes. It was inspired by the Golden Age of al-Andalusia, where, for seven centuries in southern Spain, Paradise was created in the cross fertilization and freedom between three major cultures: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim.
In 755 AD Abd al-Rahman, the only survivor of the massacre of his family in Damascus, Syria by a rival Arab faction, arrived in al-Andalus and began an era that literally assimilated the architectural styles already in Spain, adding Arabian motifs to them. He built his Great, or Friday, mosque within the existing church. That mosque within a church survives today in Cordoba, again restored to a church, mosque intact. The rich synthesis and mixture of the three cultures prevailed for the next seven centuries. When, in northern Europe, books were being burned and culture destroyed, al-Andalus was creating and preserving them.
This exhibit is inspired by and is an homage to this time. I hope it will encourage us to model our present diverse cultural melting pot on the Andalusian past. About the Paintings and Odes The eleven paintings are acrylic and metal leaf on paper.
The eight hanging odes are calligraphed on marbelized mylar and contain morsels of poems from the three traditions. They are inspired by a pre-Islamic tradition: the winning entries of a yearly poetry contest were calligraphed in gold on banners and suspended from the Ka’ba for the pilgrims to read as they circumambulated the shrine.