BYU professors and alumni, along with other artists, lend their skills to a special exhibit allowing students to explore little-understood symbols and images found in both Islamic and Christian art.
“Treasured Truths,” an exhibit of paintings, sculptures, photographs and more found in the B.F. Larsen gallery of the HFAC on BYU campus until Oct. 15, lets students discover and learn about connections between faith, art and life.
The exhibit was inspired by the MOA’s now-closed exhibit “Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture,” where viewers could discover the beauty and simplicity of Islamic art.
Val Brinkerhoff, associate professor of photography at BYU, explained his six-year journey in 45 different countries to better understand religious symbolism common in Islam and Christianity.
“One of the symbols common to Islamic and Christian art is two intersecting squares,” he said. “One of the things I like is sacred architecture and how it expresses doctrines and principles through visuals, whether it be through number and shape or by the intersection of light and color.”
His photographs capture the architectural beauty of patterns and shapes found in religious buildings around the world.
“There are all these things that our eyes teach us,” Brinkerhoff said. “A building houses us and protects us, but it can also teach us.”
Andrew Kosorok, a sculpture professor and stain glass teacher at BYU, said his curiosity to better understanding the Islamic faith led to his mixed media sculptures at the exhibit. His sculptures are based on the 99 names of God, which in Islamic tradition, describe the nature of God.
“The 99 names of God are there to either attribute or to respect,” Kosorok said. “That’s what I used to better understand Islam; using the 99 names as a spine for the research.”
His work takes three common themes throughout Islamic art, which include book binding, geometry and architectural awareness.
Heidi Larsen, co-curator of the exhibit, explained that some artists focused on direct parallelisms to Islamic art while others focused on Islamic day-to-day life. One photographer documented the activities in the life of a 20-year-old young Islamic woman and another artist focused on an old pearl diving tradition and the precious symbol of a pearl.
“We want to get people to become interested in the ways artists have used creation to bridge understanding between the two religions and show appreciation and respect for a loving God, similar respects for faith and devotion,” she said. “The exhibit should open the lens and have people take a minute to ponder and identify with another faith and find resonance in it.”