Johannah Murphy's Blog

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Archive for March, 2014

Calligraphy Blooming

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24th, 2014

Calligraphy has been described as “the art of the linear graphic; it restructures one’s visualization of a language and its topography.” (6) Abedelkebir Khatibi and Mohammed Sijelmassi in their article on the Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy, also note that “calligraphy reveals the plastic scenography of a text: that of a letter turned into image, caught in the physical act of creating a line which is animated and led onwards by an inner rhythm. This art works by taking a text as a score consisting of strokes created by the graphic artist.” (6)


Calligraphy is described here not only as a form that restructures visualization of a language, but as a art form that has a rhythm and that is in motion as it creates a image from a letter. In order to both show the motion of calligraphy as well as the unfurling of beauty, this piece uses paper flowers to illustrate both motion and a motion of unfurling beauty.


Each magnolia has written on it a piece from the Qur’an, because of my own lack of skill to truly create the “art” of calligraphy, the verse is written on a flower. These flowers hang free form moved by wind or air, but ideally not losing their form or shape, to demonstrate beauty in motion, and a shifting and changing of verse to art. After reading the article on the Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy, one gets a sense of how calligraphy is not just a “beautification” of the text of the Qur’an, but an attempt to unveil the divine in the Qur’an, a way in which to create art and beauty that is in motion as the Qur’an, as a revealed text.

This piece gives the text a physical motion that not only is represented in the mobility of the strung up flowers, but also in their motion of possibility as they give the idea that they could unfurl more, the possibility that they might bloom. Here, the flowers represent the beauty and mobility of the calligraphy instead of giving the text the beauty and flow of calligraphic design, I have given it flowers.

Reaching for Muhammad in 4’s

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23rd, 2014

O love-intoxicated Muhammad, meet your yearning lovers.

Countless beings have sacrificed themselves, Muhammad, meet your

yearning lovers


In the chapter In Praise of Muhammad: Sindhi and Urdu Poems, tears, yearning, unrest, absence, beloved, and distance, all become important ways of describing a poet’s relationship to Muhammad. Ali Asani in this chapter discusses the Sindhi poem in praise of Muhammad as a poem that attempts to “assimilate the figure of the Prophet Muhammad to the local Sindhi milieu…many Sindhi poets adopt into their eulogies the symbol of the virahini, a loving and yearning young woman, usually a young bride-to-be, who is tormented by the absence of her husband or beloved.” (161)


This art piece seeks to simultaneously explore one’s relationship to Muhammad as a yearned for beloved and Muhammad as prophet. Four of the panels depict Muhammad as a falling dark shadow, while human bones reach for the prophet, a showing of a human stripped down reaching for the divine. These four panels attempt with the Quadsi Hadiths and poetry to “catch” the falling Muhammad whose prophethood is never quite within one’s grasp. In these four panels different texts go between the soul and the falling Muhammad. They switch off between poems that long for Muhammad and the saying “and the Prophet said,” a phrase that a companion of Muhammad would say before a Quadsi Hadith. I choose this phrase to activate Muhammad as a revealer of the text, a core part of his “Prophethood.”


The included poem pieces are from the Mauluds of Abdu r-Ra Bhatt, they include:


I am love-sick, beloved, may you be my health! Maulaud 49 And

Difficult desolate distances, dear Punhun makes me travel. Maulaud 45


I used these verses to first establish the idea of “love-sickness,” a sickness that makes one feel the distance between one and the prophet as “difficult” and “desolate.”


The last panel is a reaching, a hand stretching out to a form of Muhammad that is no longer falling and instead sitting, giving the last panel both a sense of calm as well as an eeriness combined with another piece of poetry from the Mauluds of Abdu r-Ra Bhatt that reads: “The sweetest of relationships is that with the Prophet;/all the rest are meaningless!” Maulud I The last panel though words are included, speaks to how perhaps the best way to relate to, to aspire to the prophet is more a process of soul and heart, a filling in or covering of our bare bones, rather than an establishment or analysis of what one’s relationship to the Prophet truly consists of. Though poetry and a following of the Hadiths may help one to attain a closeness to the divine, to obtain true closeness it is not through the writing of poems or following of hadiths but a re-writing of soul and a following of heart, the true skin and flesh to cover our bones.

Artistic Intoxication

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23rd, 2014

In the article on Hafiz’s Ghazals and Sultan Muhammad’s “Allegory of Drunkenness,” J.W. Morris articulates how these two works “provides us with an extraordinarily condensed representation of the entire Qur’anic world-view…” This painted worldview described by Morris is situated on an architecturalscape. Angels and perfected spirits rest at the top of the house, while at the next level, as identified by Morris, the realm of imagination followed by all of the “divine knowers and friends” reside. Much occurs both visually and spiritually in this cosmicscape, but Morris points to a particular decisiveness in the image of a:


spiritually central transformation of our experience and scattered practical loves into true inner knowing (the “exaltation” aspect), along with the illumination and awakened love that flows from its “lowering” revelation to the historical, social world, are only visible and recognized here by those particular already intoxicated lovers/seekers who are already inwardly standing outside in the promised “Gardens.”’


As both a viewer and reader of this painting, one can see the “spiritual transformation,” the idea of developing awakened love, and how all of this revelation is often only visible when “intoxicated.” In an attempt to feel this transformation, in an attempt to “artistically intoxicate,” I created this piece by changing the scape of a tall house to a bodyscape, a headshot almost. I altered the scape to one of a body in hopes that “filling” a bodyscape with this scene would intoxicate. This piece explores the newness and unknown aspect of revelation, filling a body with layers and pieces, a body usually does not possess.


This piece explores truly feeling or wanting to feel “full of it all”. The bodyscape is drawn so that it looks as if it might be receiving the “pitcher of delight” described in the line of the ghazal “The Angel of divine Love grasped the pitcher of delight.” This adds to the purpose of the piece being an attempt to receive and feel revelation though positioning oneself as a receiver of delight grounded in levels of knowledge of angels and knowers.