Open call for calligraphy, ikonoMenasa TV

I was recently contacted by a content curator at ikonoTV about a unique opportunity for calligraphers interested in exhibiting their work. Ikono has an art channel running 24/7 called ikonoMenasa in the Middle East-North Africa-South Asia region, which shows art with no commercial breaks, no added narrative or sound— “a pure visual experience with no geographical or language barriers.”

If you are interested in participating, see the Open Call below, or visit the ikonoTV website.

Open Call
Submission Deadline: April 30, 2011
ikonoTV is inviting artists from all over the world to propose material for ikonoMenasa based on our current theme:

A number of cultures throughout the world draw upon calligraphy as a prominent source of artistic practice from ancient times to most recent contemporary styles and movements. A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is “the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner” (Mediavilla 1996: 18). Calligraphy has also arguably become the most venerated form of Islamic art. Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish calligraphy is associated with abstract arabesque motives on the walls and ceilings of mosques as well as on the page. Contemporary artists in the Islamic world draw on the heritage of calligraphy to use calligraphic inscriptions or abstractions in their work.

The ikonoMenasa Open Call invites people from around the world to present their work inspired by or drawing directly upon calligraphic elements.

IkonoTV offers the opportunity of increasing visibility and awareness of the Menasa culture and artists from within this region. We will broadcast your work on HDTV via satellite on Arabsat. Arabsat offers a unique platform for artistic exchange reaching more than 16.5 million households in Northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe.

If you would like to participate, please send a link of your work to

Preconditions and Requisites

We are looking for:

  • Video Art under ten minutes
  • High resolution images (JPG or TIFF format) for us to produce short films from
  • Animations
  • Motion graphics

We are not looking for:

  • Documentaries
  • Narrative videos
  • Commercial content
  • Total or partial nudity
  • Religious scenes

All material must be accompanied by the following production information:

  • Applicant’s Name
  • Country
  • Contact Information
  • Year of Production

Full credit information and links to be shown on
Ideally, a short explanatory text will accompany your submission. The art works must be your property and you must own the full copyright. This applies to all visual and audio content.

Arabic Script Calligraphy Course by Elinor Aishah Holland

The Society of Scribes in New York City is holding a class in Arabic Script Calligraphy this spring. To register, visit

Course details:
March 20, 27, April 3, 10, 17
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
$350 Members / $390 Non-members
Skill Level: This course can be taken by beginners or intermediates, people familiar with the Arabic language and those unfamiliar. For more information, e-mail:

Arabic script has a long history and has developed into a highly refined artform. This course is aimed at anyone who is interested in dipping their toe into a vast ocean. We will by no means do more than begin the journey but we will do so in the classical method. Beginning with our eyes, we will view slides of fine samples of work. Using traditional tools we will begin the study of letterforms in Thuluth. Pens and paper will be available for purchase from the instructor. We will introduce techniques for cutting and trimming reed or bamboo pens. The letters are taught first as independent forms, then in connecting combinations. These lessons will be demonstrated and practiced in class and as homework. We will also work on a sentence to understand principals of phrasing and spacing.

Our emphasis will be on developing our use of the pen and ink on paper, to develop flow, followed by an understanding of the letterforms. Of course we will spend time viewing masterpieces of calligraphy throughout each class. We do not anticipate producing finished pieces in this class, but rather to work toward that goal in the future. The joy of being a student will be our inspiration.

Higgins ink,
small (thin) bamboo brush (to be cut into a pen),
soft cushion as a writing surface (leather, packing sheets, large magazine),
pen knife (email instructor for info),
a small, wide mouth jar (meat baby food jars are perfect),
a soft pencil,
ruler, and lots of patience.

Paper and reeds for pens will be available for sale by the instructor for $6 – $12.

E A Holland is a freelance calligrapher and mother living in Rockland County NY. Although she specializes in Arabic calligraphy her work includes a wide range of subjects and styles, from envelopes to advertising, copperplate to brush. Elinor has taught adults and children calligraphy for the past 15 years.

All classes and workshops, except where indicated, are held at :

School of Visual Arts (SVA) Annex
214 East 21st Street, Manhattan
(between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)

Letters of Love by Wissam Shawkat

Letters of Love, the U.S. debut exhibition of Wissam Shawkat, will open on February 24th, 2011 at the reed space gallery in New York City. This is an event not to be missed!

NYT: Tracing Islamic History Through Its Scripts

The New York Times did a nice write-up of the newest exhibit at the Sakıp Sabancı museum in Istanbul, “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Arts of the Book & Calligraphy.”

The exhibition, designed by the Czech architect Boris Micka, traces the transition of Islamic writings from animal-skin parchment to paper, and from blocky, time-consuming print to a quicker cursive script and colorful illustrated texts. Examples appear on materials including wood, metal, ceramics and textiles from North Africa to Iran and the Far East.

The exhibit will be up at the Sakıp Sabancı through February 27, 2011, and you can find more details about the items on display on the museum’s website.

Islamic Art Collection at the Met is now online

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has recently announced the completion of their online database, which includes their entire Islamic Art Collection. A keyword search for calligraphy brings up 3 pages of interesting manuscripts that are definitely worth checking out.

Arabic Calligraphy Supplies

For those of you outside the Middle East who struggle to find the right supplies and materials for Arabic calligraphy, I’m happy to share the link to a recently-launched website,

From the site:

We import pens, inks, papers and other supplies required for Arabic and Islamic calligraphy directly from the Middle East. We are the first and only supplier of calligraphy tools specific to Islamic calligraphy in North America.

In addition to pens, inks, papers, and accessories, we also offer complete calligraphy sets, which provide everything you need to get started with Arabic calligraphy.

Happy shopping! listed among “40 Fantastic Calligraphy Blogs”

The website Web Design Schools Guide recently wrote a post entitled 40 Fantastic Calligraphy Blogs, in which they mention as one of the top US-based calligraphy blogs. You may be interested in checking out the rest of the calligraphy websites on their list, at the web address below:

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters

In May, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore launched a new online exhibit entitled, “Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters.” The Walters is in the process of digitizing all their Islamic manuscripts, and this website demonstrates the amazing progress they’re making. Check out the calligraphy section—the images are beautiful, and illustrate the wide range of manuscripts that are part of the Walters’ collection.

Check it out at

Poetry and Prayer website

Poetry and Prayer

The Mashq | an event at the Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Centre

This just in from Dubai:

The Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Centre invites you to the opening ceremony of The Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition, “Al Mashq.” See the invitation below.

BBC’s the World: Master of Islamic calligraphy shares his craft

Mohamed Zakariya will be featured today on BBC’s “The World” radio program, which can be heard in the Washington area at 8 pm on WAMU, 88.5 FM. You can also hear the program here: