MCS Activists impressed by Islamic Art Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

"When we decided that our activism topic this year would be aid to Syrian refugees and fight against Islamophobia, we also came to the realization that ignorance of the principles and culture of Islam is a driving force behind Islamophobia. To educate others on Islam, however, we would need to educate ourselves on it. Our first activism-related field trip this year was to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we spent a morning inside the museum’s “Islamic Art” exhibit. The first thing I saw when I entered the gallery was a beautiful ceramic bowl that had a phrase on it in Arabic in a powerful, elegant font. I later learned that it read, "Planning before work protects you from regret; prosperity and peace.” I began to notice other pieces that had writing on them, such as the stunning Damascus Room. The Damascus Room is a reception chamber thought to have belonged to an affluent family in the 18th century. It had poetry on its walls and ceiling, and the floor was comprised of complex tile patterns. It was my favorite piece in the entire exhibit. I learned that writing, whether it be of proverbs or the Qur’an, is a huge part of Islamic culture and art." - Kenji

"I saw many beautiful works of art, including intricate carpets and weavings as well as many geometric patterns used in various works of art. It surprised me how complex, but also simplistic each pattern is. I felt mesmerized by the art while I was there because it was so unique. The exhibit has taught me about Islamic culture and art, something I had previously not known much about." - Sophia

"Our activism project for this year is the Syrian refugee crisis.  Right now, we are just learning about the ongoing crisis and about Islamic culture.  To gain a better understanding of Islamic culture, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and observed the exhibit on Islamic art.   The art shown there was stunningly beautiful.  Something that I found fascinating was that every single piece there, from small gold coins to giant tapestries, had geometric shapes and patterns all over it.  Also, my breath was taken away from all the intricate designs on the arches and the walls of the amazing Moroccan garden.  I was surprised by the level of detail on things even as small and seemingly basic as the hilt of a dagger.  I felt completely mind-blown while going to the museum because of all the beautiful art surrounding me.  My perception of Islam definitely changed by going on this trip.  I had never known that Muslim people put so much effort into making something as ordinary as a box or a tray so magnificent." - Jack

"I feel that the trip to the Met gave me a broader understanding of Islamic cultures... There is so much more to the Islamic states than war. There is beautiful art and design, and there are people with great knowledge..." - Matthew

"I think my favorite part of our activism project so far was the trip to see the collection of Islamic art at the MET. I was really amazed by the detailed replicas of different rooms and courtyards. We watched a video on how the replicas were made, and it was really crazy to see how they carve, cut, tile, and paint something as simple as a door, and make it look like a piece of art. I also really liked seeing the different versions of the Qur'an. They also incorporated writing into many other objects like plates and bowls. It was fun to try to copy some Arabic phrases that we saw around the exhibit. I really got a feeling of the religion and cultures from the art, and the displays." - Sophie

"When you make a piece of art you give people a piece of your heart. You can see at the Met that the artists spent a lot of time on these pieces of art. It made me think about the artists as living, breathing human beings." - Izzy

"Something that surprised me was how much detail went into art on objects to represent significance in that object. While I was looking at the art, I felt calm and glad in a way that I was able to learn about Islamic culture through art. This trip emphasized the fact that it is important to respect that every religion is unique." - Carolina

"I really enjoyed our trip to the MET’s exhibit on Islamic art. What struck me in particular was how different the art from different regions was. Since Islam is a religion practiced all throughout the world, there are different styles that the creators of the pieces use. For example, a water bird from a piece created in South East Asia is depicted very realistically, with its neck thin and stretched out; where as the same bird from a tapestry made on the Arabian peninsula would be embroidered in green and physically much more stocky. This may also be a symbol; the picture depicting the bird’s long neck could symbolize listening and understanding, while the bird shown in the tapestry might be a symbol of nature." - Aaron

"It was very interesting seeing all of the work in the Islamic Art section at the MET. I admired the small details on the pieces like the jewelry or the rooms. I especially liked the temple that had many detailed designs on the walls. The tapestries were very impressive as well because of the length and the detail. We learned a lot about the detail of the art and how it is a big part of Islamic cultures." - Anais

"I saw detailed Arabic engraved in almost every piece. The beautiful sculpting work was made by careful hands. They had lots of rugs on display, with so many designs that are impossible to count. Some things I saw I thought were just paintings, but when I looked closely, I saw lots of Arabic writing, that was written in shapes to make the design of the painting. I had a great time learning about the importance of Islamic art." - Jessica

"At the Met, I saw many different pieces of art and tools that people used many years ago... There was a device that looked like a modern grill and a gorgeous royal room that I nicknamed My Dream Living Room. There were also beautiful textiles and wonderful fountains and water features. I felt relaxed there at the Met, something a teenager doesn't feel quite often." - Matthew