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Contact: Ms. Lisa Hewitt
Tel: 408-500-8574, Email: [email protected]
“Finding Common Ground through Sacred Words” interfaith art exhibition breaks new ground with record number of exhibiting artists
Opening reception: May 11, from 5 - 8 pm
ICCNC: 1433 Madison St., Oakland, CA
April 17, 2013--Oakland, CA:  On Saturday, May 11, from 5 to 8 pm at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC), the interfaith art exhibition “Finding Common Ground through Sacred Words” will open with a public reception.  ICCNC is one of three congregations that, along with Kehilla Community Synagogue and Montclair Presbyterian Church, make up the ‘Faith Trio,’ an interfaith initiative that has coordinated this exhibition, and has collaborated on a variety of community-building activities over the past eleven years, since the events of 9/11.
The number of artists exhibiting work has tripled since the Trio’s last interfaith art exhibition in 2011.  Approximately 130 works of art from over 100 artists have been selected in a competitive process.  The high number of submissions –mainly from Bay Area artists-- reflects “not just the vibrant artistic culture locally,” according to one exhibition coordinator Lea Delson (herself a photographer and member of Kehilla), “but also represents how much people really want positive relationships with people from other faiths and how deeply people care about peace and tolerance.”  Arash Shirinbab, calligrapher and member of ICCNC, echoes the sentiments of other volunteer coordinators who worked for months to put this exhibition together in saying, “It’s wonderful to see so many works of art in one space that beautifully reflect togetherness, spirit and joy.”
The artistic focus is on sacred text, with 130 works of art on display including calligraphy, needlework, paintings on silk, oil paintings, watercolor, photography, quilts, stained glass, sculpture, clay, digital art, and paper collage. Each work somehow incorporates words, text or letters in unique expressions that underscore interfaith understanding, spirituality, peace and cultural dialogue. Artwork has been submitted to the exhibition that incorporates writing in English, Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, Runes, Farsi, Korean, Chinese, and more. 
One of the artists exhibiting a painting entitled Tree of Life for the Peoples of the World, Naomi Teplow, says that the “symbols of Muslims, Christians and Jews show that if we all respect each other’s values, the doves of peace would surely come out of our Tree of Life, and we might live again in a kind of Garden of Eden.”
Artist Ann Lofgren’s mixed media 20-pound wooden door called Knock (Matthew 7:7) is a collaboration with her then-five year old son Daniel.  Inspired by a childhood in Sweden and a “Scandinavians’ natural and ingrained love of wood” this piece also echoes profound personal transformations that make us consider how the divine may play a role in our ‘salvage.’  She says, “My aim in art, beside being a quiet, personal love offering, is simply to make do with what is at hand….”
Painter Salma Zahedi’s bright canvas called Eshgh shows multiple renderings of the Persian word for “love” moving dynamically “in a color spectrum representing different aspects of love [manifesting] in one’s life.”
It is perhaps one aspect of love, one that emphasizes peaceful and fruitful relations with one’s neighbors in a culturally diverse place such as Oakland, that, for some, is at the heart of why the Faith Trio comes together for potlucks, joint study of the texts of the three Abrahamic faiths, deliberations on interfaith world issues, and feeding the needy. Founding participant Jean Mudge of Montclair Presbyterian Church says such work “strengthens the bond inherent in the Abrahamic tradition.  Joining similar grassroots efforts everywhere, ours is a local gesture of growing empathy, friendship and solidarity.”
At the opening reception on Saturday, May 11 (5 - 8 pm at ICCNC in Oakland) attendees can view the artwork and meet the artists, and representatives and faith leaders of the Faith Trio and other congregations. Refreshments will be served, and the reception is open to all and is free of charge.  The exhibition opens May 11th and closes on June 7th, and is open for viewing on Wednesdays 10 am - 4 pm and Saturdays 10 am - 4 pm.   This exhibition was funded in part with support from the San Francisco Foundation’s FAITHS fund, the Alliance of California Traditional Arts (ACTA) and East Bay Community Foundation.
Media Coverage
May 14, 2013
“Finding Common Ground through Sacred Words”, by Lily Kharrazi, on Alliance for California Traditional Arts website.
May 9, 2013
“Oakland: Interfaith art exhibit opening up”, by Maya Mirsky, on Inside Bay Area and San Jose Mercury News   
May 24, 2013
“Opening Reception for Interfaith Art Exhibit Finding Common Ground Through Sacred Words A Huge Success”, by Kathy Horn, on KCS Online Magazine  
Jan. 26, 2014
“Sacred Words, Finding Common Ground”, on Marin JCC Website.