Sandow Birk will discuss his general art practice and specifically his project American Qur’an. Throughout his career, Birk’s work has dealt with contemporary American life and social issues, from surfing and skateboarding, to graffiti, urban violence, prisons, war, and religions. Sparked by extensive travel and world events, he spent nine years creating an illuminated manuscript of the Holy Koran, transcribing the entire English language text in a font inspired by graffiti and illustrating every page with metaphorical scenes of life in the United States.
Sandow Birk is a graduate of the Otis College of Art and Design. His work largely concerns itself with issues pertinent to the politics of contemporary life and he borrows liberally from art history for his work’s compositional and conceptual framework. Birk works across media, and his projects are often expansive in scope, taking on great works of literature, religion, and law. His quest is for subjects that are challenging and germane to cogent political topics and have included urban violence, graffiti, the war in Iraq, prison growth, water rights in California, manifest destiny, morbid disease in America, surfing, and skateboarding. Single-handedly creating a hand-transcribed and illuminated manuscript of the Holy Qur’an since 2001, Birk’s American Qur’an is a consideration of the holy text against the backdrop of scenes from contemporary American life.
This lecture is sponsored by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition SANDOW BIRK: AMERICAN QUR’AN on view January 21, 2017 to March 19, 2017.