To Contain and To Serve: A Dialogue in Calligraphy and Ceramics

is a collaboration between Arabic-Persian calligrapher Arash Shirinbab and ceramicist Forrest Lesch-Middelton. The dialogue centers on the interplay of hospitality, morality and justice in contemporary cultural and media landscapes, resulting  in a series of calligraphy-inscribed ceramics inspired by the Persian ‘Nishapur’ tradition.

For this project, the artists are creating a series of ceramic wares and tiles via traditional ceramics and calligraphy practices that convey on/through them mostly contemporary messages that reference personal and societal peace and conflict. Such messages –coming from a range of sources that include traditional Sufi poetry, tweets from individuals living through recent times of conflict (such as Iran/Syria/Iraq/Afghanistan/Yemen) and contemporary poems from these area – are being inscribed and transferred on to ceramic pieces.

The objects are at once grounded in tradition while in dialogue with contemporary issues and voices. Read More About the Project.

To Contain and To Serve project is made possible in partnership with Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) and is funded by a grant from the Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund and supported by a Generous grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Learn More.