Anne Shams Soulfire Art

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Al-Andalus: Pardes/Paradise

These paintings in acrylic and metal leaf on paper pay homage to the seven centuries of cross-cultural fertilization between Christians, Jews and Muslims in al-Andalusia, Spain.  The paintings, together with calligraphed banners of poetry from each tradition, have been shown as a traveling exhibit in Silverton, Oregon, at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery of the Palestine Center in Washington, D.C., and at the Interfaith Community Sancturary in Seattle, Washington.

Click on any painting thumbnail to view a larger image.  To exit and return to the Al-Andalus page, click on the x in the upper left corner. Several of the paintings are still available for sale at

 In 755 AD Abd al-Rahman, the only survivor of the massacre of his family in Damascus, Syria by a rival Arab faction, arrived in al-Andalus. He began an era that literally assimilated the architectural styles already in Spain, adding Arabian motifs to them. He built his Great, or Friday, mosque within the existing church. That mosque within a church survives today in Cordoba, again restored to a church, mosque intact. The rich synthesis and mixture of the three cultures prevailed for the next seven centuries. When, in northern Europe, books were being burned and culture destroyed, al-Andalus was creating and preserving them.
      This exhibit is inspired by and is an homage to this time. I hope it will encourage us to model our present diverse cultural melting pot on the Andalusian past.