WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Cultural Celebration Center will open an exhibit on Sept. 1 representing the 99 most beautiful names of God found throughout the Quran — sculpted in glass.
Local artist and BYU art instructor Andrew Kosorok was inspired to create the art when he set out to learn more about Islam following the events of 9/11.
"Religious traditions are intended to help the faithful to become better people and to lead them into a better world," Kosorok said. "Islam is no different. I am a Christian, not a Muslim, and I determined to learn about a faith so misrepresented as to no longer be recognizable to its faithful practitioners."
As Kosorok began to explore the faith, he became intrigued by the tradition of the 99 most beautiful names from the Quran, an index of God's infinite characteristics, simplified for the benefit of mortal minds.
"These are attributes of God that help the faithful navigate their place in the universe relative to God," Kosorok said. "They form a practical point from which to start the exploration of another faith."
The exhibit will include 15 of Kosorok's glass sculptures as well as drawings and blueprints of planned sculptures, a mosaic painting and a number of pieces provided by the community representing the Islam faith and the 99 most beautiful names. Each glass piece is sculpted with cold-worked flat glass, and represents an abstract interpretation of the artist's response to each name.
"I learned as an artist that in Islam, rather than in my own Christian tradition, it is inappropriate to represent God as having human form, so the sculptures are symbolic abstractions rather than illustrations," Kosorok said.
Kosorok plans to have 100 works completed by the end of 2012. The pieces will be displayed in church and community groups, art centers, libraries and traditional galleries not only as a record of the artist's personal journey toward understanding, but as a positive venue for allowing people to learn about Islam.
The Utah Cultural Celebration Center is at 1355 W. 3100 South, and the exhibit will run through Oct. 11. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and by special arrangement. Admission is free.
August 27, 2011, Desert News