Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Changing Mormon Art: Arabic Portrayal of Psalm of Nephi

Source: flash presentation of the 6th LDS International Art Competition

Mazmuur Naafi: The Arabic Psalm of Nephi

Ahmed Jamal Qureshi
Digital print on paper, 2002

"The gospel finds beautiful expressions in every culture. Pioneers of the past brought with them the arts and architecture of Europe, while today's pioneers have an array of new cultural riches that broaden our appreciation of the restored gospel. In the Arab world, imagery in art is often eschewed in favor of sacred text shaped into flowing designs. Here, the artist has adapted a mosque dome form to display the circuitous text in a stately Thuluth font of Nephi's cry of trust in the Lord (2 Nephi 4:16–35). The text concludes in the center where the word "God" is written in a flowing Diwani font. In the four smaller circles in the corners are names of four individuals who brought the book of Nephi to us: Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and Joseph Smith."

I absolutely love this piece and would buy it if the church ever sells prints. (They purchased the rights to the print as part of the award in the competition).  I recommend a great write up on the artist and the design of this piece in a previous BYU Studies if you have access to it, which I unfortunately cannot find in a PDF version online.

I think this piece is a brilliant example of how the beauties of art and culture from diverse culture can be "redefined" or expressed in the context of a new found faith in the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in these the latter-days.  I think this is a particularly interesting example because it is so foreign to the artist taste of mainstream Mormons yet it is of an artistic tradition that geographically has strong ties to the culture of the first family of the Book of Mormon.  

What are your thoughts on this piece?  Would you put it in your home?  Would you be surprised to see it hanging in the temple? 


Katherine said...

Beautiful. Pretty sure I wouldn't mind seeing it hanging in a Mormon home, chapel, or temple. Think we can petition whoever has jurisdiction over the list of approved art for chapels to add it on?

I'm liking the blog, by the way. Good stuff, good stuff.

David Stoker said...

I'd be curious to know how the process works for approved chapel art and how the "purchase" awards of past LDS art competitions make it or don't make it into that pool. I would even fly out to Utah to lobby if needs be :)

cindyc said...

Hi David, I recently saw this piece hanging in the new Church History Museum, and loved it so much that I wanted to purchase a copy to display in my home. Today I contacted the Church's Intellectual Property office to request a print, and they told me that the artist still owns the rights and that I should contact him directly. You mentioned that the Church purchased the print rights as part of the competition...I was just wondering where you heard that.

cindyc said...

The Intellectual Property office just clarified...the Church owns the rights for Church use, but the artist still owns the rights for non-Church use.

David Stoker said...

cindyc-interesting. It has been a few years so I don't remember the conversation exactly but I contacted the author of the BYU Studies article who had obviously been in contact with the artist, that was the source of my statement about the ownership rights. Perhaps he was looking through the Church-use lens when we talked about that issue. Sounds like it is a matter of getting in direct contact with the artist.

Jamal said...

Tiffany said...

Can anyone tell me if this is available in print? I love the Arabic language and 2 Nephi 4 is important to so many of us. Beautiful.

David Stoker said...

Did anybody make a successful discovery here, I had another person contact me recently about wanting to purchase a print. Is the Jamal that provided the BYU Studies link the artist? I'd be happy to assist you getting your work out there.

Here is an updated link to the BYU Studies article:

TARA said...

I've been captivated by this image since I first saw it on display during the actual competition years ago. I would LOVE to own this and would proudly display it in my home.

If anyone finds out how we can purchase copies, please keep us informed.