HARTFORD – “Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory,” a project by fiber artist Laurie Wohl that interweaves Muslim, Jewish, and Christian poetry and spiritual texts from the Spanish Convivencia with those of contemporary Middle Eastern poets, particularly Palestinian, Syrian and Israeli, is on exhibit at Charter Oak Cultural Arts Center in Hartford now thru Oct. 10.
“In this project, I emphasize the striking parallels between Arabic and Hebrew texts, both rich in the poetry of spiritual love, with common themes of exile, nostalgia for Andalusia, poetry referencing Old and New Testament texts and the Qu’ran, and poetry speaking of mistrust of enemies, yearning for reconciliation,” says Wohl, who is best known for her unique Unweavings, liturgical projects, and interfaith message.
Wohl says the catalyst for “Birds of Longing” were the events of 9/11. But the message continues to resonate today.
“We are in a time of heartbreaking tragedy – when once again people fleeing persecution and violence are denied refuge. As the situation in the Middle East spirals downward, and xenophobia is encouraged in our own country, I believe it is all the more important to encourage continuing interfaith/multicultural conversations,” she says.
Wohl’s works are recognized by the AIA Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, and by the Surface Design Association. They are held in numerous collections, including those of the Museum of Arts and Design, American Bible Society, Constitutional Court of South Africa, Catholic Theological Union, and have been on long-term loan to the U.S. Embassies in Beirut, Vienna, Tunis, Cape Town, and Pretoria.