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With the help of the curator and gallery director of the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo, Utah (http://coveycenter.org/), Kathryn Allen, we set the exhibit up for display during the month of April.  This was the first public display of works completed for the 99 Names project, and was rather nerve wracking.  Several Muslim calligraphers responded to my request to show their Holy Name calligraphy in the exhibit, and sent beautiful work to use.

Hayat Gul                              (http://hayatgul.com/home.html)

Iythar                                       (http://iythar.com/)

Amina Malik                           (http://www.aminamalik.com/)

Fayek Oweis                         (http://oweis.com/)

Hafeez Shaik                                   (http://www.arthafez.com/gallery.html)

Teakster                                 (http://www.teakster.co.uk/web/home.aspx) 

We set up eight sculptures on pedestals, five Name works and three other works I had done with Muslim themes.  The pedestals were lined up in two rows parallel to the walls of the room, but we turned the sculptures so they were all at the same angle.  When viewers angled themselves to look at the front of the sculptures, they were then facing Mecca.  Another pedestal held some of the books people had sent me when I began researching the project, like Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California (http://zaytunacollege.org/) and Fons Vitae Publishing in Louisville, Kentucky (http://www.fonsvitae.com/).

On the walls we hung the patterns I drew that I used as “blueprints” to make the glass sculptures, then we placed two monitors which displayed a slideshow of the calligraphy on continuous loops.  At the entrance, we placed a beautiful metal etched plaque, loaned to the exhibit by the Faranahkian family, that is inscribed with a traditional blessing in Arabic.

We were concerned a bit with how people in the community might react.  Fortunately, there were a couple good stories about the exhibit in newspapers (http://heraldextra.com/entertainment/arts-and-theatre/visual/article_d77d8d1c-dec6-531f-8708-547bbf472247.html, http://universe.byu.edu/node/7503, and http://www.provounderground.com/event/2010/04/02/ninety-nine-most-beautiful-names-glass-sculpture-andrew-kosorok), and that made for a positive atmosphere for the opening.  My good friend Ghulam Hasnain from Salt Lake American Muslim (http://saltlakeamericanmuslim.com/) came to the exhibit opening on April 2 and spoke a couple times about the tradition of the 99 Most Beautiful Names of God, and the value of the Divine Names in the lives of contemporary Muslims.  He also stayed and answered questions of patrons—he often speaks about Muslim issues and social civility with his work with the Utah Humanities Council (http://www.utahhumanities.org/), so was absolutely perfect.

After a long and happy night, with many people complimenting Ghulam on his lovely glass work (he said he became used to deflecting those people to me, but enjoyed the attention), we wrapped up the reception.  The Covey Center placed a guest book at the entrance to the exhibit, and we found that over the rest of the month, several people came and left comments that they had really enjoyed it.  Several Christians and Muslims made it a point to tell me how grateful they were to see an exhibit of this nature.  A very positive opening for the project, and I hope, a good omen for the future.

Photography by Hawkinson Photography

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