New Exhibition at STL Airport Blends Text and Imagery

Posted on May 29, 2018 in Art Media Releases

A new exhibition that highlights the continuing influence of manuscript illumination, Beyond Words: Three Contemporary Artists and the Manuscript Tradition is on display in the Lambert Gallery at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) through November, 2018. This exhibition includes work from Salma Arastu, Archie Granot, and Bernard Maisner, along with examples of historical manuscripts curated by the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) and Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collection.

Illuminated manuscripts – handwritten books richly decorated and illustrated with paints, inks, and gold and silver leaf, provide inspiration for all three artists who weave together significant texts with intricate designs in ways that create personal connections with each viewer. Beyond Words, part of the Lambert Art and Culture Program and supported by the Regional Arts Commission and Saint Louis University Bicentennial Committee, focuses primarily on the aesthetic and historic dimensions of illuminated manuscripts, but also incorporates an interfaith dimension by including manuscripts from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.

Salma Arastu’s life journey has taken her from India to California and from Hinduism to Islam. She freely interprets classical Arabic calligraphy and manuscripts illumination techniques in her work. Israeli artist Archie Granot has produced numerous intricate, multilayered papercut artworks, including the 55-page The Papercut Haggadah, parts of which will be on display at STL.  Bernard Maisner is one of today’s most foremost calligraphers and an expert practitioner of the techniques of medieval manuscript illumination.

MOCRA is the world’s first museum of interfaith contemporary art. Opened in 1993, MOCRA is dedicated to the ongoing dialogue between contemporary artists and the world’s faith traditions and to serve as a forum for interfaith understanding. Located in a spacious chapel, which was previously used by Jesuit priests at Saint Louis University (SLU), MOCRA offers a unique meditative setting for museum visitors.

SLU has three libraries at their St. Louis campus and one library at their Madrid, Spain campus. The Pius XII Memorial Library, located at the main campus in St. Louis, is the primary library for SLU. Pius XII houses the university’s Special Collections division, which includes the Rare Books unit and the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, where manuscript and print text images are studied in their original, historical context. It holds a unique collection of more than 37,000 microfilmed manuscripts from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and close to 3,000 microfilmed manuscripts from other libraries.

Beyond Words: Three Contemporary Artists and the Manuscript Tradition was chosen by the Lambert Art & Culture Program through the Airport’s seven-member Airport Art Advisory Committee. Current members are Lisa Cakmak, Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum; Ellen Gale, Executive Director Clayton Chamber of Commerce; Shelley Hagan, Wells Fargo Curator Corporate Art; Leslie Markle, Curator of Public Art, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum; Kiku Obata, Founding Principal of Kiku Obata & Co.; Roseann Weiss, consultant with ART+; and Carlos Zamora, Creative Director at Express Scripts. 

The mission of the Lambert Art and Culture Program is to create a visually outstanding impression of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, generate community pride, and ensure that art at STL continues to complement and build upon the airport’s rich visual legacy. The program aims to highlight the St. Louis region’s unique art and culture, while also showcasing national and international works, focusing on both visual and performing arts. Currently, there are 29 works of art (temporary, permanent or on-loan) on exhibit at the Airport. For more information, visit www.artoftravelstl.com