Free Islamic art podcasts are good news for Americans who may not otherwise get to see much Islamic art or any commentary to help understand it. These online resources come courtesy of the organizers of the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, a scholarly conference held every two years and co-sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University and the Qatar Foundation. If you’re interested in Islamic art and culture and the Middle East, it’s a great aid for private study or for teachers.
Background on the Free Islamic Art Podcasts
Asian art in North America still tends to focus on Eastern Asia with a recently growing influx from India. There are some signs of progress like Asian Contemporary Art Week in New York which features more and more offerings from Central Asia and the Middle East. Still, it’s rare that most North Americans get to view much Islamic art or art from the Middle East. Even living in Washington DC with access to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, most special exhibits on the subject just remind me how unfamiliar it is to me.
Contents of the Free Islamic Art Podcasts
The Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art is a scholarly conference but the podcasts should be easy to understand for most adults or teens thanks to the format. They’re organized by year with a keynote address that outlines the overall theme with individual speakers going into more depth on specific topics. There are also plenty of slides to keep it interesting and roundtable discussions with all the speakers. There are even accompanying texts online to summarize the talks.
Dozens of videos are already available to view online or download, and hopefully they’ll increase each year. For now, you can watch the 2007 symposium held in Qatar and the 2009 session held in Spain. The first conference is not available but the fourth titled God is Beautiful: He Loves Beauty is scheduled for October 2011 at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. The current free Islamic art podcasts are titled Rivers of Paradise: Water in Islamic Art and Culture and Diverse Are Their Hues: Color in Islamic Art and Culture. Just because they’re academic doesn’t mean they’re dry. The presentations are educating and entertaining blends of art criticism with folklore, anecdotes, and references to the Qur’an and classic poems.
To get these free podcasts, visit the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art.