Madrasa-Midrasha: Aesthetics in Islam and Judaism

Sunday, February 24th 2019, 3:00pm to 6:00pm
Dinner Board Room, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, 2400 Ridge Road Berkeley, CA 94709

The cultures of Islam and Judaism developed over centuries, giving expression to an enormous span of regional and cultural diversity. Today’s program will explore the common and divergent elements in their aesthetic expression and how continuity, linearity, and non-linearity come into play in the material culture of each tradition. We will explore forms such as geometry, calligraphy, illumination, and monumental inscriptions as well as the aesthetics of worship and liturgy. Speakers include Carol Bier and Francesco Spagnolo

Carol Bier, historian of Islamic Art, studies patterns as intersections of art and mathematics. As Research Scholar at the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley CA, she has published widely on cultural aspects of geometry in Islamic art that inform a beauty of form, pattern and structure. She is concurrently Research Associate at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC (2001-present), where she served as Curator for Eastern Hemisphere Collections (1984-2001). 

Francesco Spagnolo is a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music, and digital media. At the University of California, Berkeley, he is the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music. He is also an affiliated faculty with the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, the Institute of European Studies, the Religious Diversity Cluster of the Haas Institute, and serves on the Digital Humanities Council. Dr. Spagnolo is also a host for the cultural programs of Italian National Radio (RAI) in Rome.