Anne Shams Soulfire Art

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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 (http://www.ohiomagazine.com/) 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.”


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House of One

June 2017 I will travel to Berlin as part of my campaign to raise funds for The House of One

https://house-of-one.org/de

The unique architecture of the House of One honors and celebrates the mutual common ground of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each religion will have its own separate worship site within the structure, with a common area connecting them for education, mutual celebrations and encounters.

I have a registered campaign to raise funds for The House of One. https://house-of-one.org/en/node/11721

My campaign began with plans to donate the sale of prints of my Paintings of the Jewish Wedding. I hope to revise it soon to offer prints of three of my paintings that celebrate the Al-Andalus Renaissance that emerged from the fruitful commingling of Christians, Jews and Muslims in Medieval Spain.

My trip to Berlin will include a visit to gift to the House of One a beautiful full size print on fabric of my fused glass art, Pillar with Wings.   Wilfred Kuehn of the German architectural firm Kuehn Malvezzi won the competition for the design. The architects promote funding for the House of One with events in which the portable interfaith art could be used. It can be easily packaged and transported to display at various sites.

As an Interfaith Artist, the House of One is close to my heart. It is my hope that, when the building is completed, my fused glass triptych, The Wilderness Journey, will find a home there.

 

Utne Reader article about the House of One

Utne Reader  8/12/2014 Coexistence in Berlin by Katie Moore

“The House of One will provide a space for prayer and dialogue between the world’s religions.

Many of the world’s disagreements and conflicts can be attributed to religion. But in Berlin, one site’s construction is hoping to create a bridge of understanding and dialogue between different faiths. The idea for the House of One began in 2009 when St. Peter’s Church was undergoing excavation after having been destroyed during WWII. The Protestant community recognized that there was not enough need for another church while also noticing the lack of spaces for local Jews and Muslims. A collaboration between a pastor, a rabbi, and an imam put into motion the tri-faith place of worship. Markus Dröge a Protestant bishop commented, “We can see all over the world that faith can divide people. We want to show that faith doesn’t divide Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but instead reconciles them.”

A competition for the design of the building was opened in 2012. Architect Wilfried Kuehn, won with his plan for separate rooms for each religion and a central area connecting the spaces. Each of the three rooms are the same size but feature different elements like an organ in the church and a foot washing area in the mosque.”

The Three Religious Leaderspriest-rabbi-imam

Greg Holberg, Lutheran Pastor, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin, Imam Kadir Sanci

Fundraising

The architectural design has three stages, each stage able to be used as completed.

The first stage construction phase will require 10 million Euros. As of March 20 2012, the amount available is 5,300.100 Euro.

The estimated cost to complete the project is 58.6 Million Euros.

Donations

The three Religious Leaders hold bricks that represent donations. Anyone is invited to donate a brick for 10 Euro. https://house-of-one.org/en/donate

 


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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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