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The Dance of Words

Date: 02/25/2013 - 03/15/2013

Time: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Location: Quarter Gallery Regis Center for Art (East)

Cost: Free


The Dance of Words
A group exhibition of artworks that reference the use of text and calligraphic traditions found in many languages and cultures

Exhibition Dates
February 25 – March 15, 2013

Exhibition Location and Hours
Quarter Gallery
Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota
405 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, 612/624-7530
Parking available nearby at the 21st Avenue ramp, hourly or event rates apply
Gallery hours are 9 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday

Accessibility and Cost
The Regis Center for Art and Quarter Gallery are wheelchair-accessible. The exhibition and related public programs are free and open to the public.

The Dance of Words was organized by the Katherine E. Nash Gallery and the Arab American Cultural Institute in Minnesota and is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota, the Embassy of the State of Qatar, the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, and Mizna. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Related Events

Public Lecture by the artist Ayad Alkadhi
Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm
Regis Center for Art
Ayad Alkadhi is an established Arab-American artist whose works are exhibited extensively in the United States and Internationally. Ayad Alkadhi’s work focuses on cultural and political topics of Iraq and the Middle East. The work is mainly biographical and sometimes incorporates his painted images. His use of Arabic newspaper on mixed-media canvases, as well as his use of calligraphy, connects elements of traditional medium to existence at the crux of East and West polarities. Alkadhi, who received his MFA from New York University’s ITP Tisch School of the Arts, has exhibited in the Middle East, New Zealand, Europe and the US. His most recent exhibitions include: the Queens Museum, the Austrian Cultural forum and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum in New York; the Station Museum in Houston, Texas, the Maraya Art Center in Sharjah in UAE. Born and raised in Baghdad, Alkadhi left Iraq for a better future after the first Gulf war. Alkadhi currently lives and works in New York City.

Public Reception
Celebrate the exhibition with the artists
Thursday, February 28, 2013 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Regis Center for Art
Includes a performance by the Amwaaj Arabic Music Ensemble.

Artists in the Exhibition
Robert D. Adams, Ayad Alkadhi, Hend Al-Mansour, Beth Barron, Loretta Bebeau, Maria Damon, Fatima Zahra El Filali, Ruthann Godollei, Marcia Haffmans, James Henkel, Brenda Litman, Joonja Lee Mornes, Charlie Nestor, and Mary Simon-Casati.

Exhibition Description
The Regis Center for Art presents The Dance of Words, a group exhibition of artworks that reference the use of text and calligraphic traditions found in many languages and cultures. The exhibition was juried by Ashley Duffalo, Program Manager, Public and Community Programs, Walker Art Center; Karen Kinoshita, Executive Office and Administrative Specialist, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota; and Ozayr Saloojee, Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Minnesota.

Letters were invented as symbols to interpret spoken languages. Soon they developed their own visual connotations. Among such connotations are the calligraphic traditions that transformed sacred texts into iconic images. In the Islamic world, the Far East and other cultures, calligraphy renders words to direct the viewer’s emotional response to text as well as to depict the literal significance. When a word is written its image and its concept meet. Together they enter into a dialogue to engage the viewer in a relationship between verbal and visual meanings. In this exhibition, artworks celebrate the aesthetics of the written word and examine this interaction between the dual messages. It draws the audience into a deeper appreciation of such intricacies. The text used is the predominant formal element in the work. The artworks offer unique and contemporary interpretations many calligraphic traditions.

The exhibition serves as a forum to connect calligraphic traditions of many cultures that respect and excel in this art and are part of larger Minnesota. The exhibition aims to create a dialogue between different alphabets’ users. Within one alphabet there are myriad languages with a variety of aesthetics. This exhibition not only helps to integrate different alphabets’ users within the fabric of Minnesota, but also allows these unique groups to offer rich traditions to the larger community. Juxtaposing displays of several languages instigates a deeper reflection on what language as a form of expression means. Texts offer different meanings to natives than to those who do not speak the same language. This exhibition strives to expand our appreciation for cultural diversity.

Katherine E. Nash Gallery Mission
The Katherine E. Nash Gallery is a research laboratory for the practice and interpretation of the visual arts. We believe the visual arts have the capacity to interpret, critique and expand on all of human experience. Our engagement with the visual arts helps us to discover who we are and understand our relationships to each other and society. The Katherine E. Nash Gallery will be a center of discourse on the practice of visual art and its relationship to culture and community -- a place where we examine our assumptions about the past and suggest possibilities for the future. The Nash Gallery will play an indispensible role in the educational development of students, faculty, staff and the community. http://nash.umn.edu/

Department of Art Mission
The Department of Art provides an introduction to the practice of art for all students as well as immersive training for emerging artists. We promote creative expression and conceptual development through a broad range of art disciplines and practices. Initial experiences emphasizing traditional methods are supplemented at intermediate and advanced levels by experimental processes. We offer courses in painting and drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics and experimental media (EMA). Students pursue their work in our state of the art facilities, mentored by our faculty, all artists recognized in their fields. http://www.art.umn.edu/

Arab American Cultural Institute in Minnesota (AACI) Mission
AACI is a community group that provides cultural resources for Minnesota Arabs and those who are interested in Arab and Middle Eastern cultures. AACI’s social, cultural and educational programs are forums where Arab-Americans integrate within the larger Minnesota community and where Minnesotans learn more about and embrace the small Arabic community. AACI has presented artworks of Arabs and Arab-Americans. In March 2010, the show Sabeel: Artistic Journeys From Arab Lands to America was exhibited at the University of Saint Thomas in partnership with the Art History department. In 2006 AACI produced Tekween: Making Art in Arabic, a workshop followed by an art exhibition, in which local artists with Arab roots met and produced art together in partnership with the Center for Independent Artists. Other events include film screenings, henna nights, cooking classes and an Arabic language club.


  • Name: Rachel Kirchgasler
  • E-mail: kirc0110@umn.edu
  • Phone: (612) 624-7900
  • Sponsored by: Art, Katherine E. Nash Gallery, School of Architecture, Arab American Cultural Institute, Embassy of the State of Qatar, Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, Mizna


Parking is available at the 21st Avenue Ramp.  Hourly and event rates will apply.

More information: http://nash.umn.edu

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Rachel Kirchgasler, Department of Art, kirc0110@umn.edu, (612) 624-7900.

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Dance of Words Press Release