Sandow Birk: The American Quran
January 23, 6:00 pm, Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall (424 Santa Teresa)
We the People: Islam & U.S. Politics Event Series
This discussion session with artist Sandow Birk will focus on his ongoing American Quran project, which aims to hand-transcribe the entire Qur’an according to historic Islamic traditions and to illuminate the text with relevant scenes from contemporary American life. Five years in the making, the project has been inspired by a decade of extended travel in Islamic regions of the world and undertaken after extensive research. Featuring an audiovisual demonstration of his artwork, the session will focus on how Mr. Birk has chosen to work on this topic, what kind of challenges and support he has encountered, and how the project is received by different audiences in and outside the United States. Qamar Adamjee, Associate Curator of South Asian Art at San Francisco Asian Art Museum, will moderate the session. The event is free and open to the public, and it is co-sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center and the Cantor Arts Center.
Los Angeles artist Sandow Birk is a well traveled graduate of the Otis/Parson’s Art Institute. Frequently developed as expansive, multi-media projects, his works have dealt with contemporary life in its entirety. With an emphasis on social issues, frequent themes of his past work have included inner city violence, graffiti, political issues, travel, war, and prisons, as well as surfing and skateboarding. He was a recipient of an NEA International Travel Grant to Mexico City in 1995 to study mural painting, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, and a Fulbright Fellowship for painting to Rio de Janeiro for 1997. In 1999 he was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting, followed by a City of Los Angeles (COLA) Fellowship in 2001. In 2007 he was an artist in residence at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2008. His most recent project involves a consideration of the Qur’an as relevant to contemporary life in America.