Week 10


photo (4)


This piece is in reaction to the poem, The Conference of the Birds and specifically the part of the poem where the birds are coming up with excuses not to go on the journey.  Intentionally I assume, the author made the birds seem like real people.  As we discussed in class, the birds that refuse to go on the journey’s excuses come up with excuses that human people would likely come up with and they represent the some of the vices and sins of humans.  I chose to paste heads of birds onto bodies of scantily clad people to emphasize the sins of the people.  I pasted them together in a collage to put them in a collection around like they are in the poem.

Week 13




This piece is in reaction to The Reluctant Fundamentalist and specifically the passage where Changez reacts to seeing the planes crash into the towers.

“I stared as one—and then the other—of the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed.  And then I smiled.  Yes, despicable as it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased. … [A]t that moment, my thoughts were not with the victims of the attack…no, I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees” (72-3).

This quote made me nauseous the first time I read it.  I lived in Philadelphia when 9/11 happened and most of the parents came and took their kids out of our second grade class because we were in the middle of all the attacks and people were afraid they would try to hit Philadelphia because of the symbolism and history.

This print combines the V for victory sign with the twin towers being exploded. Changez sees the attacks as a victory of the rest of the world against the United States.  The reason the fingernails are pink is because, in what is supposed to be a sick twist, the United States with its commercialism and materialism is the one declaring it as a victory because Changez has now been in the Unites States for a while so it is people from within that are wishing harm upon the country.

Week 12




When reading Persepolis, I was struck by the effect the hijab had on the girls in Iran.  My drawing takes inspiration from the first page where all the girls in the class are lined up next to each other to emphasize the lack of individuality they experience when forced to wear the hijab at school. But instead of the many different girls in the class, I wanted to emphasize the different stages and different personas that Satrapi goes through herself throughout the book.  The first persona on the left is the that of the prophet.  “At the age of six I was already sure I was the last prophet.  This was a few years before the revolution”(6).  Even though she would not be wearing the hijab at this point in her life because the revolution had not happened yet, I wanted to show the stifling of the personas as a result of head scarf.  The rays above her head and the serene expression are meant to represent the light shining out from within her, potentially the Nur Mohammad.  This is how she is represented in the graphic novel.  To me, this was representative of her childhood innocence before the revolution and before her country got torn up by the Iran/Iraq War.

The second persona is that of a militant or when Satrapi was behind the revolution.  In one part of the novel, she is chanting “down with the King” and is wearing ammunition across her chest and has the gun strapped to her back.    This is where the image is pulled from but for large parts of the novel, she is supportive of the revolution and the changes that are supposed to come about because of the revolution. This then wraps back around near the end of the novel when she keeps fighting the status quo, it is just a different status quo at is point.  She yells at her teachers and acts out in school.

The last persona is one of pain and sorrow.  The image is pulled from when the Guardians of the Revolution stopped her for not being properly dressed and she got away.  But it is also representative of all the pain she is going through while living in Iran at this point.  The pain from the hospital where they would not transfer her relative.  The pain from when Neda Baba-levy was killed and Satrapi found her bracelet still attached to the arm.

But on first glance, they do not look all that different because they are all wearing the hijab.  These are drastically different stages of Satrapi’s life where she is feeling and doing very different things but the hijab smooths those differences out.

Introductory Essay


Poetry A


Poem Recitation


Here is my poetry recitation and my analysis.

Week 4


Week 4

What is religion?


Is religion meant to be structured?

I thought religion is what I feel between me and God.

Should someone else dictate the how of my communion with God?

Am I less of a muslim if I fail to have a beautiful voice to read the Sacred Text in?


Is religion communal or personal?

With so many rules it does not seem to be personal.

By reading the Sacred Text aloud do we need to feel in a group?


Is religion about comparison and judgment?

Do I need to measure up to a special point on someone’s meter stick of piety?

If the man next to me weeps more than me, is his connection with God better?


Is religious experience or conformity more important?

Should I hide what I feel in favor for what the group is feeling?

Are the rules to be taken as laws or guidelines?


Maybe these elements allow for a connection between all believers.

They provide a starting point for people to develop their own faith.

Maybe religion encompasses these elements but also so much more.


A constant tension I have found in the readings and lectures for this class is the group versus self divide as well as this tension between structured religion and more freeform, self made religion.  I saw that very clearly in the “External Rules of Quran Recitation” reading.  Some of the rules, like rule six about weeping or rule ten about reading the Quran beautifully, seem in a large part outside the control of the reciter.   The entire idea of structured Quran recitation is one that we have talked about a lot.

This free verse poem was in reaction to all the questions that I felt when I read the reading on the rules.  Many of the questions got to the root of my inquiries about religion itself. As a scientist, one of the most important things we are taught to do is question everything.  The truth can only be found from constant questioning.  This seems to not be the case in religion where there is no one right answer.  This belief comes into conflict with the rules of Quran recitation though because they are so structured, just like math rules.  Through my poem I tried to impart this battle between the fluid idea that I have come to associate religion with and the very rigid rules presented.  In thinking these ideas over myself, I came to the conclusion that the rigid rules allow for some consistency which is good for the whole of a religion.  There need to be some ties that pull everything and everyone together or religion becomes only a cultural entity.


Week 5


This piece of art was a reaction to the week on Ta’ziyeh.  I built props and theatre sets in high school.  Consequently, the  theatrics and the more technical side of Ta’ziyeh is what I found particularly interesting.  I decided to make a lion’s mask for a performer to wear.  In order to make the mask, I morphed human and lion face proportions.

Through this piece I am trying to convey two main points.  The first is the combination of the symbolic and the realistic, the way that realistic time does not matter but the entire theatre is based on real events.  The other element is the ability for theatre and Ta’ziyeh in particular to draw people in.   The ability to connect theatre with something from within is so pronounced and I can imagine it is even more present in a religious setting such as Ta’ziyeh as it was been described.  This element of Islam demonstrates the ability for change.  “The texts of the Ta’ziyeh dramas were at first very simple with concentration on universal truths rather than on the dramatic power to be achieved through the skillful use of exposition, challenge and complication” (8).  The costumes and the sets are such an important part of the essence of the Ta’ziyeh to bring people physically into the theatre with the decoration being taken from the people watching.  I thought that that lion and specifically a lion mask mirrored the concept of Ta’ziyeh because it is a real event and a real thing that holds so much meaning for the Shia.  When a person puts on the mask and embodies the lion, they are living through the events at Karbala which is the point of Ta’ziyeh in the first place.  Ta’ziyeh is a mix of real and symbolic.

Week 2


The reaction to this week is based on “Reading the Qur’an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam.” The clear split presented in the reading between the more maternal, loved filled side and the more structured, fear inducing side of the Qur’an and Islam is what I found particularly interesting from this week.  Sardar’s personal experience was with learning the Qur’an on his mother’s lap and trying to understand the  meaning of the words.  His questioned the words to fully understanding the meaning behind the words, leaving behind the “rather simplistic position of the Qur’an” (21) that arises from mere memorization.  “My emotional connection became more complex once I started to read the Qur’an with meaning.”  This is in contrast to the systematic, robotic way the Qur’an was memorized in the madrasas he visited in Parkistan “I could see that it had become a much more regimented and violent environment….This was not about inspiring the love of a Sacred Text” (7). Throughout lecture and section I am struct by this tension in Islam, that arises in many disciplines, between a personal reaction to religion and a more systematic reaction.

To represent this artistically, I wrote the word Quran and split it between warm, comforting colors and round shapes to represent Sadar’s own experiences and crisper lines with cool colors of blues and greens to represent the type of Quran teaching that occurs in the madrasas.  I tried to differentiate the patters that filled the letters of the Quran between the two areas.  The warm colored patterns are much more complex because the understanding of the Quran is much deeper when it is imbued with love and meaning. The patterns in the cool section are much more symmetrical and self-similar because the meaning that one gets from the robotic understanding of the text is not very different from any one else’s understanding. I wanted to impart this split in ideas.  By drawing a dividing line, the divide is much more pronounced that it is in reality.  There are many degrees in between these two extremes.

Calligraphy Project


For this assignment, I focused on the idea that one of Allah’s names is ‘Light’.  As an art student in high school, I was always drawn to contrasting warm and cool colors which I think is why I find the idea of Allah as a source of light so appealing.  With the warm colors coming from within his name, I tried to express the power he gives over the art of calligraphy.  In Islamic Art and Spirituality, Nasr discusses how  “quaranic calligraphy is also related to illumination” (29).  I find this description particularly apt for the perspective I took in this assignment.  Both is my calligraphy supposed to illuminating in the literal and figurative sense.  I used highlighter in an attempt to really demonstrate that the light is shining through the paper and Allah’s name.  I also think that it is illuminating in the figurative sense because it demonstrates one of the key aspects of Allah, that he is the “Light of the Heaven and the Earth.”

The second element I attempted to incorporate into my calligraphy was the geometric component of Islamic Art.  “Islamic patterns also often combine calligraphy with both stylized plant forms or arabesques and geometric patterns.” Through my piece, I tried to emphasize the geometric patterns in Islamic art.  The white is meant to represent life without Allah, blank and not fulfilling.  The background which is blue and thus cool colors but just as intricately patterned is meant to  represent life without Allah but with another god, emphasizing the acceptance that Islam has for other religions


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