Nature-Inspired Art by Luke Fleischman; Islamic Art Coming to VCU

vcu arts

Nature-Inspired Art by

Luke Fleischman at Stir Crazy


On display at Stir Crazy Café through July, an array of cut, welded and painted steel artwork by Luke Fleischman. Luke grew up in Powhatan and Goochland counties, the fourth of ten children, and his mother Jinny was an accomplished artist and always encouraged her children in pursuing the arts.

A decade ago, Luke retired as guidance director at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. While he had dabbled over the years with freelance projects and illustrating two children’ books, it wasn’t until after his retirement that he discovered a new medium—sheet steel. He and his wife Catherine currently live in an 18th century home in rural Cumberland County Virginia, and he finds constant inspiration in the flora and fauna that surround him.


VCUarts and VCUarts Qatar to Present

Leading International Conference on Islamic Art


Thirteen of the leading scholars, curators and artists of Islamic art and architecture from around the world will present their latest research at the seventh Biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, November 2 through 4, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, and VCUarts Qatar in partnership with the Qatar Foundation, “Islamic Art: Past, Present and Future” will include a number of presentations addressing how Islamic art engages with contemporary politics, global capitalism, gender, religion and history, and how Western museums have approached collecting and curating the arts of the Islamic world.

“We are delighted to host the Hamad bin Khalifa symposium in Richmond this year,” says James Frazier, interim dean of VCUarts. “The symposium is widely considered the preeminent conference on Islamic art and culture, and we are thrilled that our students, faculty and broader community in Richmond will have the opportunity to directly participate in the rich, cross-cultural dialogue led by our Doha campus. The symposia support our mission to advance teaching and learning across the university, and we are grateful to the Qatar Foundation for supporting us in driving the international exchange of ideas and establishing a common ground through the arts.”

Opening remarks will be delivered by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chair of Qatar Museums, Doha Film Institute and Qatar Leadership, and a leading proponent of the arts as a catalyst for education, dialogue and exchange. She has become known internationally as the progressive force behind Qatar’s mission to be the Middle East’s foremost destination for the arts and culture.

Following the opening remarks, a keynote address will be given by the contemporary artist Lalla Essaydi, whose work often combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the female form to address the complex realities of Arab female identity from the unique perspective of intimate, personal experience. Essaydi’s work is held in the collections of a number of museums including the Louvre, the British Museum and the Harvard Art Museums.


The Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art is organized by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom who have shared the Hamad Bin Khalifa Endowed Chair of Islamic Art at VCU since its establishment in 2006.

“The Hamad bin Khalifa symposia are remarkable in bringing together leading experts who present their cutting-edge work in accessible ways,” Blair said. “This year’s speakers are particularly notable for their wide range of experiences from the practical to the theoretical.”

In its 13-year history, the symposium has been held in cities around the world that play significant roles in Islamic history. Past symposia were held in Doha, Qatar; Córdoba, Spain; Palermo, Italy.

In coordination with the symposium, up to 10 additional scholars of Islamic art from around the world will be awarded Hamad bin Khalifa Travel Fellowships. The fellowships support travel expenses for these scholars to attend the symposium as well as invitations to special events at which they will have a chance to connect with symposium presenters.

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