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Canton Ohio Museum of Art features my painting, Balance, in publicity and press

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Entrance to "Sacred Voices" exhibit at Canton Ohio Museum of Art

Entrance to “Sacred Voices” exhibit at Canton Ohio Museum of Art

I feel honored that my painting, Balance, was featured in publicity and press for the  Sacred Voices exhibit, curated by Michele Waalkes for the Canton Ohio Museum of Art.

It  was featured on the mailed publicity postcards, on the Museum entrance banner, and in  two articles. To the left is the photo of the museum entrance banner. Balance is in the lower right corner.

I was interviewed, along with three other exhibiting artists, by Linda Feagler of the online zine, OHIO ( about the origins of my piece, “Balance,” and how I began to create multi-faith art. Here are my edited and elaborated excerpts of her article,  Spirit Guide:  The Canton Museum of Art spotlights works that have been shaped by faith.

“The works are bold and personal. In many cases, they are born of struggle, sorrow and the   hope that even life’s worst travails ultimately give way to strength and growth.  Beginning December 5 and continuing through March 2, the Canton Museum of Art is spreading that message with two compelling exhibitions. “Sacred Voices” showcases works by 37 artists  from around the world who symbolize their personal doctrines in a variety of mediums. A companion exhibit, “Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible,” offers a new look at the sacred tome by way of 160 illustrations, hand-drawn between 2000 and 2011 by scribes and calligraphers spanning the globe.

“In choosing the pieces for [“Sacred Voices”], I was looking for artists whose beliefs are embedded in their creative process and who convey a distinct spirituality,” says the exhibit’s curator, Michele Waalkes. “But,” she adds, “it’s not about differences. It is about how faith inspires art, and how art can also inspire faith.”

“Shams was in the midst of a spiritual crisis that spurred her beyond her Christian heritage to explore other faiths. She visited Mennonite meetinghouses, Jewish tabernacles and Buddhist temples. She studied Judaism, Christianity and Islam. “I  learned that many religious beliefs are universal in just about every faith,” she says.

“One idea I studied, that is particularly important to me, is a Jewish mystical principal about how we understand the nature of God. It’s the idea that there are two divine polarities — power/judgment on one side and compassion on the other. When judgment overcomes compassion, evil enters the world. Perhaps the view of a divinity that condemns “the other” is a lopsided view, and the evil that enters in the world is violence against “the other.”

“Her acrylic painting, “Balance,” puts that perception into perspective. In it, Shams incorporates traditional symbols of Judeo-Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths associated with love and power. Harmony in nature as a centering force is depicted by a sunflower, a rose and ocean waves. “I hope the painting encourages all who see it to think about expressing more empathy and compassion in their daily lives,” the artist says. “In doing so, we contribute to our own peace of mind, as well as the peace of the world.”


My Interfaith sculpture finds a home in the Interfaith Center of New York Gallery

RHM is a life-size fiberglass based painted sculpture that I contributed to Caravan’s Amen a Prayer for the World in 2014. I was invited by the organizer, Reverend Paul-Gordon Chandler to exhibit with 47 other artists, many from Egypt, most from the East Coast USA. The exhibit started in Cairo with the Egyptian artists, whose works were shipped to the US and joined by the rest of us, to exhibit first at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., followed by St. John the Divine in NYC.

Two of the most beloved of the Most Beautiful Names of Allah, Al-Rahman and Al-Rahim, are derived from the triconsonant root RHM, meaning womb or place of origin. I have calligraphed the root RHM in several art works. The root’s feminine slant appeals to me as a woman and more importantly it contradicts the tendency to anthropomorphize the Divine as male.

RHM holds a bowl to  receive requests for prayer. The phrases on the black yoke of the figure connect the Old Testament and the Koran, and are meant to unsettle the misconception that YWH and Allah are two separate deities. On the figure’s right is a verse from I Kings 18:39, translated from the Hebrew by Rabbi Ted Falcon as “The Transcendent One awakens in All.”  The verse on the figure’s left is from the Koran, Sura 2:115, translated by Imam Jamal Rahman as “Everywhere you turn is the face of Allah.”


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Al-Andalusia Exhibit now in Seattle

The Interfaith Community Sanctuary in Ballard (Seattle), Washington hosts my exhibit of 11 paintings and 9 odes, Al-Andalusia:  Pardes/Paradise,  through the second Sunday in November. It will be enjoyed by the larger commnity on Saturday September 21, International Day of Peace.

The Interfaith Community Sanctuary welcomes all religions. It was co-founded by Imam Jamal Rahman and Karen Lundquist.

Imam Jamal Rahman has been featured in the New York Times, on CBS News, the BBC and various NPR programs. He is an adjunct faculty at Seattle University, a former host of Interfaith Talk Radio and travels nationally and internationally, presenting at retreats and workshops.

He is co-author of “Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi & an Imam” and “Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith”, and “Out of Darkness Into Light: Spiritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources.” He is also the author of “The Fragrance of Faith: The Enlightened Heart of Islam” and “Spiritual Gems of Islam: Insights and Practices from the Quran, Hadith, Rumi and Muslim Teaching Stories to Enlighten the Heart and Mind. “ 

Reverend Karen Lindquist serves the community as Interfaith Worship Program Coordinator and brings guests from diverse spiritual and faith traditions to share a Message on the first Sunday each month. She also co-creates many interfaith services throughout the year with faith and spiritual communities and interfaith organizations in the greater Seattle area.

Rev. Karen Lindquist was the 2012 Honoree of the Father William Treacy “Models-of-Hope” Awardpresented on December 8th 2012 at the 10th annual Interfaith Summit held at Cascadian Center at Camp Brotherhood in Mt. Vernon, WA.

Karen Lindquist’s spiritual practices include, but are not limited to, the sacred turning-of-the-heart of the great Sufi poet, Rumi and his whirling dervishes
— an ancient, indigenous spiritual practice spontaneously revived through mystical and prayerful experiences entered into by Rumi.

I am pleased that the exibit will also be up during the presentation of Friends of the Charter for Compassion, an offshoot of Karin Armstrong’s efforts to spread the Common Ground of all religions as the Golden Rule.

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“Balance” getting ready to go to Canton, Ohio Museum of Art

The Curator of the Canton Museum Exhibit “Sacred Voices” asked me to send an estimate of shipping and insurance costs to Ohio. Since the painting was sold a few months ago to a collector, I did not have it to weigh but I did have a selection of 9  12″ x 12″ empty canvases, the same format as the painting.  I found the proper box, put the canvases in, drove to FED EX and they weighed and gave me an estimate.  What fun to tell the helper at FED EX, when she asked, that I am sending a painting to a museum.

The next step will be to pick up the art from the collector, who is happy to loan it for the exhibit.

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Canton, Ohio Museum of Art requests “Balance” for exhibit

I had a very welcome email a few weeks ago from Michele Waalkes, the

curator of the exhibit Sacred Voices, asking for my painting,

Balance, for the show at the Canton, Ohio Museum of Art

from December 2013 to March 2014.


Sacred Voices is planned as a companion exhibit concurrent with The St. John’s Bible, a phenomenal undertaking by a team of artists coordinated by Donald Jackson to create the entire Bible in the ancient illuminated manuscript tradition. The project was commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monks of St. John’s College in Minnesota.

St. John's Bible

The Saint John’s Bible is a work of art and a work of theology. A team of artists coordinated by Donald Jackson in Wales and a team of scholars in Central Minnesota have brought together the ancient techniques of calligraphy and illumination with an ecumenical Christian approach to the Bible rooted in Benedictine spirituality. The result is a living document and a monumental achievement.

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Al-Andalusia in Washington, D.C.

Al-Andalus:  Pardes/Paradise in Washington, D.C.

Here is a taste of Al-Andalus:  Pardes/Paradise as exhibited  at the Jerusalem fund Gallery of the Palestine Center in Washington, D.C. September/October 2012. Click on Pomegranate Tree of Life to see all of the art created for Al-Andalus:  Pardes/Paradise. 

The Gallery of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, Washington, DC hosted my paintings and odes: Al-Andalusia: Pardes/Paradise from September 14 thru October 26, 2012.

I attended the Opening Reception and gave a brief presentation. My flight on September 11, 2012 coincided with the attack on the US Consulate in Bengazi, Libya and the deaths of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and computer expert Sean Smith.

Pomegranate Tree of Life
Pomegranate Tree of Life

The exhibit was very well received. It was preceded by the optimism generated by the events of The Arab Spring. However, on arrival at the gallery to meet with the gallery director, Dagmar Painter, all of the hundreds of United States flags in the US Capitol were at half-mast. It was a sobering sight.

The Jerusalem Fund Gallery is a program to promote Palestinian and Arab culture through art exhibits, book signings, musical performances and other events. The events are held at The Jerusalem Fund office in Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C, across from the Watergate Complex.

The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. that does educational and humanitarian work on behalf of Palestinians, particularly those living in the Occupied Territory and surrounding refugee camps.