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On October 28, the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California celebrates its two-year collaboration with calligrapher Arash Shirinbab and ceramicist Forrest Lesch-Middelton with an exhibition and public reception from 4-6 p.m.. The exhibit, To Contain and Serve features a series of calligraphy-inscribed ceramics inspired by the Persian Nishapur tradition, and created by Shirinbab and Lesch-Middelton. Through this partnership, the artists explored themes of hospitality, morality, and justice in cultural, historic, and contemporary contexts. The opening and reception are free, but the public is encouraged to RSVP.

Arash Shirinbab, reports that the texts inscribed on the ceramics, “are coming from a range of sources that include traditional Sufi poetry, tweets from individuals living through recent times of conflict (such as Iran/Syria/Iraq/Afghanistan/Yemen) and contemporary poems from these areas. The objects are at once grounded in tradition while in dialogue with contemporary issues and voices.” Forrest Lesch-Middelton, whose ceramic studio in Petaluma has been the cornerstone for creating and firing the pieces, adds, “The quotidian nature of the objects reflects a key idea in this project: the deep-seated Islamic value of human hospitality. The interactions created while hosting, eating, and drinking together create strong social fabric. In tough times, we keep returning to the basics.”

Following the October 28 opening, the To Contain and Serve exhibition runs through November 24 on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Private visits also may be arranged by e-mailing [email protected].