Reflections on
Contemporary Art and Faith

An Inspiring, Poetic, and Discursive Evening (November 1, 2021)

Our inaugural collaboration with the College of Charleston was graciously hosted by the Religious Studies Department at the Wells Fargo Auditorium. Moderated by Professor Elijah Siegler, the evening featured curatorial presentations and an artist lecture-performance, which culminated in a panel discussion, audience Q&A, and event reception. It was attended by a melange of artists, religious studies and art students, members of various faith organizations, as well as university staff and educators. 

 

Curatorial talks by FSA’s Executive Director Tyler Rollins, and Director of Programs Leeza Ahmady opened the evening by individually addressing their experiences in the contemporary art world, specifically related to spirituality and religion. As a preface to the other speakers, Tyler sketched a theoretical overview of contemporary art’s general agenda, particularly in regards to the climate between art and faith. Offering various interpretive methods for considering art’s intentionality and meaning, Tyler underscored his work with Asian artists as a model for integrating religion with contemporary art.

Curatorial talks by FSA’s Executive Director Tyler Rollins, and Director of Programs Leeza Ahmady opened the evening by individually addressing their experiences in the contemporary art world, specifically related to spirituality and religion. As a preface to the other speakers, Tyler sketched a theoretical overview of contemporary art’s general agenda, particularly in regards to the climate between art and faith. Offering various interpretive methods for considering art’s intentionality and meaning, Tyler underscored his work with Asian artists as a model for integrating religion with contemporary art.

Leeza, on the other hand, offered her particular vantage point on art’s spiritual inheritance through her own autobiographical narrative as a curator. Discussing her Afghan upbringing, where community is nurtured through storytelling, she related how spirituality is integral to art as a normative form of life. Consequently, Leeza brings this disposition into her professional discipline by developing unknown artists, and in turn highlighting their work in the contemporary art world.

New York, London, and Tehran-based artist Amina Ahmed, closed the evening with a dynamic lecture-performance. Entitled “Standing Under Our Ancestors: Understanding Our Mother,” her visual presentation portrayed the revered role of Mary in Isalm. Steeped in spirituality, Amina’s prints and drawings are grounded in the practice of repetition, meditation, and sacred geometry. Together, this trio of presenters demonstrated the generative possibilities that stem from the ecosystem of spirituality and contemporary art.

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