Shedding a Light on Islamic Art’s Great Treasure

By Judith H. Dobrzynski

SABIHA AL KHEMIR was visiting a solar energy plant in Spain about four years ago when inspiration struck. Her host, the foundation of a Spanish company with interests in alternative energy, wanted her to conceive an Islamic art exhibition for Seville to recognize Spain’s 800-year history under Moorish rule and ideally to tie her concept into the Seville-based company’s work. Touring the solar plant, the Tunisian-born curator found her organizing principle.

“It was an incredible experience,” Ms. Al Khemir, 55, recalled. “Light was everywhere.”

Immediately, she hit upon the theme of light — and not light as “dhaw,” in Arabic, the visual, physical phenomenon, but rather as “nur,” which has a metaphysical dimension, as in the Quranic phrase “light upon light,” signifying God as the light of the world. That notion, she said, “is a shared metaphor between Christianity, Islam and Judaism.” [Read more... ]

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