Riyaz Latif, Mellon Assistant Professor of History of Art, will give the keynote talk on Thursday, January 7, at 6:30 pm at the opening event of the College Book Art Association’s National Conference held at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. His talk, entitled Narrative Worlds of Islam in Ink, Silk and Gold, will focus on works of Islamic art from the impressive collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Nearly 100 works in an array of media are currently on view through Sunday, January 10, at the Frist. Mostly functional objects, their meanings unfold as much through the materials out of which they were made as through the words and images they may bear. A ninth-century Qurʾan written in gold calligraphy on indigo-stained parchment reflects the value placed on writing as a marker of religious and intellectual cultivation.
Trained as an architect in India, Latif primarily focuses his teaching and research on Islamic art and architecture. He is one of ten Andrew W. Mellon John E. Sawyer Seminar Fellows at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities addressing “When the Fringe Dwarfs the Center: Vernacular Islam Beyond the Islamic World” during the academic year 2015-2016. The seminar participants and the Warren Center will host a conference in the fall semester 2016 that will be open to the Vanderbilt community and the public to share results of the year’s work.
Latif’s book manuscript in preparation, Ornate Visions of Knowledge and Power: Formation of Marinid Madrasas in Maghrib al-Aqsa, stems from his work focused on the art and architectural production in premodern Islamic Maghrib and its cultural moorings in the premodern western Mediterranean world. This spring the Warren Center seminar participants will read chapters from his book manuscript on fourteenth-century Moroccan religious buildings.
Latif has also written about the Marinid necropolis of the Chella in Rabat, Morocco, and has published an article on the Great Mosque of Cordoba in the context of its visual imaginings by the preeminent Urdu poet, Iqbal.
For more information about the College Book Art Association’s National Conference, January 7-9—“Telling the Story”—go to http://www.collegebookart.org/Conference-Schedule.
Leaf of a Qur’an, Tunisian, Fatimid or Abbasid Period, 9th or 10th century, probably Qairouan, Tunisia. Gold ink on indigo-dyed parchment, 11 x 14 3/8 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.