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“The vault of heaven is a perfect sphere, and our horizon as we look towards the heavens is always a circle.  Artists through the millenia continually symbolize God’s domain with this shape.  Circles and spheres have no beginning and no end, and are eternal.  All of us see the world through the circle of our iris – it is wonderful to me that every person is born so we see the universe through a perfect circle.  We begin our life with the key of understanding, seeing the world through the shape which is eternal, and a symbol of God.”

Dr. Lisa DeLong and I met at BYU’s Beauty and Belief exhibit, and this is how she began a wonderful workshop on the presence of the sacred in Islamic art.  She and Dr. Lance Harding graduated from The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in the UK; she is very much a Christian, and has found spiritual beauty and strength in exploring the structures of Islamic art.  Her teaching has taken her around the world, and as a Christian she has taught Muslim craftsmen the keys to better express themselves as Muslim artists.  My friend Dr. Omid Safi, Professor of Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, tells me the reverse was also true in the Ottoman Empire.  “Ottoman leaders would find promising Christian artists and pay for them to study abroad and develop their talents.  This was done so when the artists returned, they could make beautiful Christian art.  The Muslim rulers respected their fellow Children of the Book to the point that they supported them in being better and more expressive Christians.”

I also love her paintings.  Her website is Whole Grain Art – integrated art which nourishes the soul.

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