The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVIII, Issue 9
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
October 25 , 2002

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 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




Alhabeeb exhibits calligraphy

Self-taught artist maintains tradition of Arabic writing

     "Islamic Art: Peace and Beauty," an exhibition of Arabic calligraphy by M.J. Alhabeeb, associate professor of Resource Economics, opens Monday, Oct. 28 at the Augusta Savage Gallery in New Africa House. An opening reception will be held from 5-7 p.m.

     A self-trained artist with more than 30 years in painting and calligraphy, Alhabeeb considers himself one of a few original calligraphers in the West who foster classical calligraphy and emphasize the essence of manual skills. He is also among the few who still resist the growing temptation to use computerized lettersets and design templates.

     His strongest influences are the calligraphers of the contemporary Baghdadi school spearheaded by Hashim Muhammed Al-Khattat, and the earlier Ottoman school, represented by Sheikh Hamadullah Al-Amasi.

     "I tend to describe my work of calligraphy as 'neo-clasical' for maintaining the methods, manners and techniques of the classic calligraphers since the 8th century, but I also introduced a quasi-modern and personal approach."

     As an Arab-American, Alhabeeb believes the rich culture of his ethnicity has been neglected, negated and rejected. As his artist's statement says, "I hope the power of art would be able to counter the demons and the prevalence of the stereotypical view of this culture as violent and primitive. I must stress, though, that this exhibition is not a political act to promote Islamic ideology, nor is it a reflection of mere spiritual experience of an individual, as the text of the pieces may suggest. Rather, it is an event to appreciate, cultivate and preserve Islamic art."

     The exhibit runs through Nov. 22. Gallery hours are Monday and Tuesday, 1-7 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m.

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