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Phoenix Art Museum presents global exhibition on art and Islam spanning a millennium
Unknown, Inscribed Coffeepot and Cups, before 1928. Brass, copper, silver. Newark Museum Purchase.

PHOENIX, AZ.- Phoenix Art Museum is presenting Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place, the first exhibition on art and Islam at the Museum in more than two decades, from January 26 through May 26, 2019 in the Art of Asia galleries. The comprehensive exhibition, organized by the Newark Museum, features more than 100 artworks, including handwritten texts, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, photographs, and paintings, from across centuries and from nearly every continent, with the exception of Antarctica. Unlike previous national and international exhibitions on the subject, Wondrous Worlds is organized around the Five Pillars of Islam instead of geography, time period, or material, offering a fresh perspective on the intersection of art and Islam.

“We are delighted to host Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place,” said Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “This exhibition offers a unique and global view of art and Islam, and we are excited to share these extraordinary works with our community.”

Curated by a team led by Katherine Anne Paul, PhD, curator of the arts of Asia at Newark Museum, the exhibition is structured around the Five Pillars of Islam, considered the core beliefs and practices of the world’s second largest religion. The Five Pillars are shahada (declaration of faith), salat (five daily prayers), zakat (almsgiving, or charity), sawm (fasting for Ramadan), and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Each section of the exhibition showcases a range of objects from various countries and centuries, including works created in the service of Islam by Muslim artists for Muslim patrons, items created for purposes that are not explicitly religious, and objects by non-Muslim artists created for both Muslim and non-Muslim patrons. Featured works include books of poetry, woven prayer rugs depicting paradise, inscribed coffee pots, game boards, and musical instruments. These traditional objects are displayed alongside contemporary works, such as calligraphic Sufi poems and sculpture, to demonstrate how artists today continue to explore through various mediums the ways in which art and Islam intersect.

“Islam connected cultures across the Middle East, the Mediterranean world, and as far as China through travel, trade, and faith,” said Janet Baker, curator of Asian art at Phoenix Art Museum. “Its impact on the intellectual and scientific worlds was vast and long-lasting.”

By presenting artworks that span centuries and continents within the context of the Five Pillars, Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place provides Museum guests with the opportunity to experience the living legacy of Islam through an in-depth examination of the religion’s global reach and influence across generations. Over the course of the exhibition, the Museum will present various public programs inspired by the artworks on view, including public lectures featuring local Muslim leaders and family-friendly activities in the galleries, to help build awareness and engage the community in conversation about the world’s fastest growing religion.

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