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March 2014

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Art History Students Launch Exhibition Website for Lalla Essaydi

The thirteen students in the Spring 2014 Art History Exhibition Seminar, Exhibiting Islam. Exhibiting Arab Culture, launched their website for the fourteen-work show of internationally acclaimed Arab Muslim photographer, Lalla Essaydi (b. 1956, Marrakech, Morocco): http://sites.jmu.edu/lallaessaydi/. The two-venue exhibition is mounted in the Arts Council of the Valley's Darrin-McHone Gallery, opening Friday March 7th (March 7-28), and the University's Sawhill Gallery in Warren Hall (March 24-April 4.) 

Student authored essays in the website’s “Explore” feature provide important insights into the viewing and critical reading of Lalla Essaydi’s work. These accomplished authors are: Ashley Burch, Molly Delaney, Patricia Drummond, Gabrielle Gill, Jon Henry, Gwynnavier Jones, Danielle Lewandowski, Caitlin Mealy, Tara Ott, Meredith Pilcher, Madelaine Stanley, Joliza Terry, and Jennifer Tremblay.

Topics on the materials and creative practices of the artist include: the art of Arabic calligraphy, or beautiful writing, in henna; a history of Moroccan textiles; the symbolism of the veil and its use in the artist's work; and Essaydi's photographic techniques.  Other authors consider the meanings and interpretative frameworks for viewing Essaydi's work. These include: the history of museums in Morocco and Essaydi’s place in the country’s emerging contemporary art scene; Essaydi’s critique of the Orientalist tradition in nineteenth-century European painting; Orientalist photography, the picture postcard, and its international effects on visual culture; a critique of Orientalism seen through the lens of queer theory; the effects of the Arab Spring on Feminism in Morocco (2011-2014); and the multicultural identity of Lalla Essaydi.








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