Above the Rug: Approaching the Rug as a Critical Form

Above the Rug: Approaching the Rug as a Critical Form (Panel Discussion)
February 11th, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Fort Mason Chapel, San Francisco

Historically and traditionally, rugs are a medium for cultural expression; they embody the geography and values of the people who make them. Their symbols, patterns, and materials reveal deeply personal narratives—stories of history, place, purpose, and faith. As a prayer rug defines a sacred space and mediates between the material and the spiritual, the rugs in Sanctuary create a distinct material boundary that encloses a safe space for contemplation, introspection, and interpretation. This space of the rug is necessarily mobile and temporary, able to be rolled up, transported, and deployed as needed.

Moderated by Fine Arts Museums’ Curator of Costume and Textile Arts Jill D’Alessandro, this panel will discuss the rug’s myriad secular and sacred uses, and the ways in which contemporary artists are approaching the rug as a critical form in their practice. Panel participants include Ala Ebtekar, Malin Lonnberg, Sanaz Mazinani, and Minoo Moallem.

Admission is FREE; no RSVP required.

Jill D’Alessandro is Curator of Costume and Textile Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. (Full bio forthcoming)

Ala Ebtekar is an artist, researcher, and educator who works between his native San Francisco Bay Area and Tehran, Iran. Born in Berkeley, California to Iranian activist/artist parents, his work currently disquiets dominant notions of identity and complicates cultural difference. He currently teaches at Stanford University in the Department of Art & Art History and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts. Ebtekar is the founder and director of Art, Social Space and Public Discourse, a three-year Stanford global initiative on art that investigates the multiple contexts that shift and define changing ideas of public space.

Sanaz Mazinani is a contemporary artist who works primarily in photography, video, and large-scale installations. She obtained her undergraduate degree in photography from the Ontario College of Art & Design University, and an MFA from Stanford University where her research focused on the study of digital photographic propagation and its impact on representation and perception.

Minoo Moallem is a professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California Berkeley. She is the author of Between Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Politics of Patriarchy in Iran, University of California Press, 2005, as well as numerous book chapters and articles including “Aestheticizing Religion: Sensorial Visuality and Coffeehouse Painting in Iran” in Sensational Religion edited by Sally Pomey, Yale University Press, 2015. Her digital project (designed by Erik Loyer), entitled “Nation-on-the-Move,” is published in Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular, Vectors 2:2 (October 2007). Moallem is a contributor to the Sanctuary exhibition catalogue, and her new book Persian Carpets: Nation as a Transnational Commodity is forthcoming from Routledge in 2018.

Malin Lonnberg is senior editor at Hali Publications, where she works on the quarterly magazine HALI and other publications mapping the world of carpets and textiles. Her research interests include carpets in Renaissance painting and the projection of identity through textiles.

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