Art in Focus: “Taking Shape” with Boston College Professor Dana Sajdi and College of the Holy Cross Professor Sahar Bazzaz

The McMullen Student Ambassadors are pleased to present Art in Focus, featuring an informal discussion between professors from various academic departments at Boston College. With each new episode, we aim to uncover a unique perspective on the works on display, informed by research and methodologies in areas of study across the University. Each conversation will bring the exhibition’s works “into focus” to highlight art’s expansive reach and interdisciplinary nature.

The following podcast is the third installment in the Art in Focus series, where we explore different themes and artwork from the “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s” exhibition. For this episode, we have invited Associate Professor Dana Sajdi of  Boston College’s History Department and colleague Professor Sahar Bazzaz of the College of Holy Cross’s History Department to discuss how artworks within the exhibition mirror moments in history.

Left: Professors Sahar Bazzaz and Dana Sajdi in London during the summer of 2015. Right: Portrait painted by Professor Bazzaz of Professor Sajdi based on the photograph to the left.  Oil on canvas, 18 x 23 in.

Kamal Boullata (Jerusalem, Palestine, 1942–Berlin, Germany, 2019) La Ana Illa Ana (There Is No “I” but “I”), 1983, silkscreen, 35¼ × 28⅜ × 1¼ in. Image courtesy the Barjeel Art Foundation.

Kamal Boullata (Jerusalem, Palestine, 1942–Berlin, Germany, 2019) Lam Alif, 1983, silkscreen, 35¼ × 28⅜ × 1¼ in. Image courtesy the Barjeel Art Foundation.

Omar ibn Said, The Life of Omar ben Saeed, called Morro, a Fullah Slave in Fayetteville, N.C. Owned by Governor Owen (1831). Images of manuscript courtesy the Library of Congress.  

Najat Makki (Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 1956–) Window, 1987, henna and acrylic on paper, 18⅞ × 12¼ in. Image courtesy the Barjeel Art Foundation.

Left: Utagawa Hiroshige (Edo, Japan, 1797–Japan, 1858) Plum Estate, Kameido (Kameido Umeyashiki), No. 30 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 11th month of 1857, woodblock print, sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.30 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.30_PS1.jpg). Right: Vincent van Gogh (Zundert, Netherlands, 1853–Auvers-sur-Oise, France, 1890), Flowering Plum Orchard (after Hiroshige), October-November 1887, oil on canvas, 55.6 cm x 46.8 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

Weltkarte des Idrisi vom Jahr, Charta Rogeriana. Originally drawn by Muhammad al-Idrisi, 1154. Facsimile by Konrad Miller, 1928. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

If you did not have the chance to catch our trailer for this podcast on social media, you can watch it here!

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