WASHINGTON — With a backdrop of continuing turmoil and tension in the Middle East, Washington National Cathedral will host the U.S. premiere of an innovative art bringing together 48 individual artists from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish backgrounds. The Sixth Interfaith CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art will be featured at the National Cathedral from Sunday, August 31 until Monday, October 6.

Seeking to build interreligious bridges, the 2014 CARAVAN exhibition, which finished its Middle East run in Cairo in June at Egypt’s Museum of Modern Art, is built around the theme “AMEN—A Prayer for the World” and is an aspirational expression of hope and goodwill.

“The CARAVAN exhibit is an exciting opportunity for Washington National Cathedral in so many ways,” said the Very Reverend Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “It allows us to continue exploring the Cathedral’s nave as a space for artistic exhibition and expression. It has brought us into a partnership with both CARAVAN and the embassy of Egypt. It continues our great tradition of interfaith ministry and collaboration.

“A wide range of artists from varied cultural and religious backgrounds—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish artists; Egyptians as well as Westerners—are bringing their own unique gifts and perspectives to the decoration of these praying figures,” Hall observed. “I hope many will come and experience the pieces themselves, and the Cathedral, in a new way.”

Each of the 48 participating artists has been given a life-size fiberglass sculpture in one of four poses of prayer to paint or decorate as they wish. The “model” for the sculptural prayer form is Amun, a deity of ancient Thebes in the 11th dynasty (c. 21st century BC), who is considered the first to move religion toward monotheism. The four sculptural forms therefore communicate a modern essence of Amun, each depicted with his face. In this exhibition the historic figure of “Amun” is being associated with the word “Amen,” an affirmation commonly used to conclude Christian, Muslim, and Jewish prayers or blessings.

For the Cairo show, 30 figures were decorated by a diverse range of premier Egyptian contemporary artists: from renowned veterans such as Farghaly Abdel Hafiz, Ahmed Shiha, and Mohamed Shaker to rising younger artists such as Marwa Adel and Karim Abdel Malak. In Washington, these will join 18 figures decorated by Western artists including Deborah Sokolove, Amy Gray, Trudy Ludwig, Lilianne Milgrom, Tom Xenakis, and Helen Zughaib from the national capital region. As an artistic collective from both Egypt and the West, organizers note, the participants are making a statement of praying together for peace, justice and wellbeing for everyone in our world.

CARAVAN, an international interreligious and intercultural arts non-profit, was started in 2009 in Cairo, Egypt, with the objective of building bridges through arts between the creeds and cultures the Middle East and West. One of the flagship initiatives of CARAVAN is this globally recognized annual interfaith art exhibition.

The exhibition is co-curated by CARAVAN Founder/President, the Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, and celebrated Egyptian artist Reda Abdel Rahman. It is sponsored by SODIC, a real estate company in Egypt, and supported by the British Council.


WHAT: Sixth Interfaith CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art
WHERE: Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Ave N.W.
WHEN: August 31–October 5, 2014
MEDIA RSVP: There will be a special media-only preview in late August.
Media should RSVP to Meredith MacKenzie
SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral