About

Calligraphies in Conversation” encompasses a group exhibition and a series of public events including calligraphy demonstrations, workshops, and calligraphers’ talks and presentations focusing on endorsing the appreciation of traditional calligraphy in hands-on and tangible manner. The emphasis of this program is initiating a meaningful conversation between different calligraphy traditions especially between the Middle Eastern/Islamic calligraphy and other calligraphy scripts and traditions.

“Calligraphies in Conversation” initiated in 2012 by a core team including Raeshma Razvi of Silkworm Media, Arash Shirinbab and Fateme Montazeri of Ziya Art Center, and a community leader, Ali Sheikholeslami, and made possible by the support of Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) and a grant from Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA).


This program builds on the success of our inaugural Calligraphies in Conversation project in partnership with Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) and Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) in Spring 2014, where over 80 artworks were exhibited at these two locations near downtown Oakland. A range of diverse traditions and styles were exhibited, with an array of Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish traditional calligraphy artworks as well as manifestations of calligraphy in some contemporary and abstract art pieces. Co-curators Arash Shirinbab, Neal Jamal Koga, and Raeshma Razvi assembled the collection over many months, in a competitive process that yielded 115 submissions mainly from the Bay Area and some from the U.S., United Kingdom, China, Iran, Japan, and Turkey. The exhibition coincided with four public events at ICCNC and resulted in a full color exhibition book. More!

As an additional goal, the exhibition and related programs, by encompassing traditional artworks of different cultures, aim to foster dialogue between diverse cultures and faiths through a traditional art form. Such viewing combinations are rare in California, and will provide the public with the unique opportunity to recognize shared features: The traditions all highlight the power of written word via inscribing it artistically with pen and ink, and emphasize a direct relationship between spirituality and calligraphy. Being a good calligrapher, in the traditional sense, goes hand in hand with developing strong spirit and character.

In 2015, over 70 artworks curated out of over 250 submissions from local, national and international artists and calligraphers including Canada, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Italy, India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, UK, and USA. A range of diverse traditions and scripts exhibited, with an array of Western, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, and Indian traditional calligraphy artworks as well as manifestations of calligraphy in some contemporary and abstract art pieces. The exhibition will host a wide assortment of medium including calligraphy with traditional tools, painting, pottery and ceramics, digital arts and 3D printing, mixed media, metal art and jewelry, collage, and installation. Exhibition Date of 2015 exhibition: November 7 – December 12, 2015. Exhibition Place for 2015 exhibition: Multiple locations across San Francisco Bay Area, California, including Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC),  Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC), and Oakland Main Public Library. More!

The third exhibition was hosted at the Gallery of Fremont Art Association in Fall 2016 with a wide assortment of medium including calligraphy with traditional tools, painting, pottery and ceramics, digital arts and 3D printing, mixed media, metal art and jewelry, collage, and installation. More!

The fourth exhibition has been held at the Skylight Gallery of the Main San Francisco Public Library in Fall-Winter 2017. More!
Thomas Ingmire, Human Cosmos (detail of the work), Calligraphies in Conversation 2017