Geometry Made Manifest: Interpreting Ornament in Islamic Art


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  • Speaker: Carol Bier, Visiting Scholar, Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley CA
  • Host Department: History of Art
  • Date: 03/22/2013
  • Time: 4:00PM - 6:00PM

  • Location: 180 Tappan Hall, 855 S. University, Ann Arbor

  • Masjid-i Jomeh

    photo: Masjid-i Jomeh, Isfahan, Christiane Gruber

  • Description:

    The interpretation of ornament in Islamic art has undergone profound reassessment during the past 150 years of Western scholarship. Drawing upon diverse contemporary sources from late twelfth-century Iran, and examining brick architecture of Seljuk and post-Seljuk Iran, this lecture proposes a cultural milieu of mathematics, poetry, architecture, philosophy, and theology, within which the Persian historian Juzjani’s expression, “geometry made manifest,” takes on new meaning.

    Carol Bier is Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA (2010-13) and Research Associate at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC (2001-13), where she served as Curator for Eastern Hemisphere Collections (1984-2001). Her research focuses on the historical development of Islamic patterns as intersections of geometry and art. Her publications include Science, Crafts, and the Production of Knowledge in Iran and Eastern Islamic Lands (a special issue of Iranian Studies, 41/4 [2008], co-edited with Elaheh Kheirandish and Najm al-Din Yousefi), The Persian Velvets at Rosenborg (Copenhagen, 1995), and Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran (Washington, 1987). She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts (London). In Fall 1998 she was the Norman Freehling Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities.