Islamic Art Reinterpreted

Seminar presentation by Dr Melissa Forstrom from the Purchase College - State University of New York. Coffee and tea will be served. This event is open for all.

A wall with star shaped carvings in gold and blue.
The Alhambra in Granada, an iconic piece of Islamic art. Illustration photo: (CC0 1.0)

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Islam and Muslim peoples have been politicized and represented as closely associated (if not inextricable) with religious fundamentalism and Islamic terrorism in many Western mass media representations.

Contemporaneously, there has been an increase in Islamic art exhibition, both temporary exhibitions and reinstallations of permanent collections in the USA and Europe.


Telling “Another Story”

These ​Islamic art exhibitions​ ​are often discussed ​in the media ​as telling “another story” of Islam, “bridging cultural divides” and “combating” negative media narratives.

This illustrated presentation investigates the relationships between contemporary mass media representations and the written interpretation in the following Islamic art exhibitions:

  • New Galleries for the Art of Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • Arts of Islam at the Louvre, Paris.
  • Pearls on String: Artists, Poets, and Patrons at the Great Islamic Courts at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

This paper explores oversimplified binaries between the media and museums and exposes the dialogical and sometimes reflective relationship between media representations of Islam and the exhibitions of Islamic art.

About the speaker

Melissa Forstrom
Dr. Melissa Forstrom Photo: Purchase College

Dr. Melissa Forstrom is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Purchase College- State University of New York,​ where she teaches courses in Visual Arts Management.

Her doctoral thesis is titled: Interpretations and Visitors in Two Islamic Art Exhibitions (University of Westminster, 2017). In 2007, she received her Master of the Arts in Visual Culture (University of Westminster).

Her MA dissertation is titled: Cultural Representation in Three British Museum Exhibitions that Commemorate the Bicentennial (1807-2007) of the Abolition of the British Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Melissa has been invited to speak at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the New York Public Library, the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture at the American Alliance of Museums National Conference, and P21 Gallery (London). She has guest lectured at Johns Hopkins, the University of Leicester, the University of Westminster, and the University of Wales.

Tags: Islam, Media, Art
Published Jan. 12, 2018 10:46 AM - Last modified Jan. 12, 2018 10:46 AM