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We have assembled this issue as a means to direct attention to the power of art to open paths of peace where previously none could be imagined, and to put a spotlight on the beauty and wisdom of Islam. The issue opens with Deborah Sokolove’s well-crafted review of Shirin Neshat’s Facing History exhibit, recently on view at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, in which Sokolove boldly states that Neshat is “one of the most courageous artists working today.” The artist, originally from Iran, is courageous because she dares to interrogate the ideologies that have put her into situations of exile from both the Eastern and Western worlds she has called home. Another Iranian contributes poetry to this issue. Eight poems by SAID, treating profoundly such themes as existence, desire, and mourning, are translated by our poetry editor, Mark Burrows. Next, a London-based researcher, Rosalind Parker, considers the British Museum’s mounting of an exhibit about the Hajj, and wonders whether audiences entered into a space configured more to elicit a religious experience than to present material in the didactic mode more characteristic of the British Museum—ultimately arriving at the conclusion that the exhibit was both experiential and instructive. Lastly, we are publishing an article by Meena Sharify-Funk, an American Muslim scholar of Iranian ancestry. She discusses how Sufis were vital to the development of letter mysticism in Islam. John Shorb contributes an interview with Saudi-American artist, Hend al-Mansour. And Mark McInroy rounds out the issue with two new titles in theology and the arts, both with a focus on Islam.
ARTS: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies is the journal of the Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies (SARTS), and is published by the Religion and the Arts Program at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas. ARTS appreciates the additional financial support of partner institutions, including CARE (The Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education at the GTU in Berkeley); Fordham University; Fuller Theological Seminary; Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre for Art and Spirituality; St. John’s University (MN); Union Theological Seminary (NY); Wesley Theological Seminary; and Yale University Institute of Sacred Music. We are funded by donations from our partner institutions as well as individual memberships to the professional society and through subscriptions to ARTS: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies. Your new or ongoing support is very much appreciated.
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