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Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World w/ Steven Naifeh

Columbia Museum of Art
Event organized by Columbia Museum of Art

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The Columbia World Affairs Council and the Carolina Peace Resource Center, in partnership with the CMA, are pleased to present a film screening of Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World (2012. 90 minutes) with an introduction by renowned artist and author Steven Naifeh followed by a Q&A discussion. A part of USC’s International Education Week, the evening is FREE and open to the public.

The documentary, narrated by Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon, takes audiences on an epic journey across nine countries and over 1,400 years of history. It explores the richness of Islamic art in objects big and small, from great ornamented palaces and the play of light in monumental mosques to the exquisite beauty of ceramics, carved boxes, paintings and metal work. It revels in the use of color and finds commonalities in a shared artistic heritage with the West and East. The film also examines the unique ways in which Islamic art turns calligraphy and the written word into masterpieces and develops water into an expressive, useful art form.

Like all art, Islamic art carries with it the fundamental values and perspectives of the artists who created it as well as those who commissioned and paid for it. It incorporates the basic themes of transcendent beauty common to all creative endeavors.

This dazzling documentary reveals the variety and diversity of Islamic art. It provides a window into Islamic culture and brings broad insights to the enduring themes that have propelled human history and fueled the rise of world civilization over the centuries.

​About Steven Naifeh:
The son of career U.S. diplomats, Naifeh grew up exploring and absorbing the world around him, including its many mesmerizing artistic cultures. His remarkable childhood served as a platform for artistic expeditions across the United States, the Middle East, and Africa. Altogether, by the age of thirty, Naifeh had lived not only in the United States but in Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Oman, the U.A.E., Pakistan, and Nigeria.

Propelled by these experiences, Naifeh returned to the U.S. to pursue his higher education in art history. During his undergraduate studies at Princeton and his graduate research at Harvard, Naifeh's purview expanded beyond the ancient abstract works of his childhood to include the formal academies of industrialized Europe. With a research focus on Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Western European and American art, Naifeh broadened his understanding of the spectrum of material culture created through the ages.

Naifeh's artistic imagination has been the driving force not only of his life as an artist but also of his career as an accomplished writer. His biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga (written with Gregory White Smith) won the Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for an Oscar-winning film. His most recent work, Van Gogh: The Life (also with Smith), was praised as “the definitive work” on the artist by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

As an artist and author, Naifeh has been profiled in many publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Harvard Magazine, and the International Herald Tribune. He has had solo public exhibitions in major museums and cultural centers in the United States, Turkey, Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. After an early life spent traveling the world, for the past thirty years he has made his primary home in South Carolina.

For more information, contact us at programs@columbiaworldaffairs.org, 803.252.2197