The Kennedy Center is currently hosting a three-week festival called Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World (February 23-March 15, 2009). The festival includes music, dance and theatre events, as well as exhibits by contemporary artists.
I visited the festival last Saturday, and was excited to see the work of two calligraphers displayed. Hassan Massoudy is an Iraqi artist who lives in France. He uses a large brush and vibrant colors to create his calligraphic art. His work was exhibited at the Kennedy Center in a 3-sided multimedia display, featuring examples of his art and video footage of him creating calligraphy.
Farah Behbehani is a graphic designer and calligrapher from Kuwait. For her masters’ thesis, she created a series of calligraphic illustrations based on a classic Sufi poem, The Conference of the Birds. Each illustration was accompanied by a decoding system which she describes as, “designed to make Arabic calligraphy more accessible for non-Arabic readers.” The spread below is from her book, which can be ordered from Amazon.com.