Teaching Art of the Middle East and the Islamic World

Saturday, November 4, 2017, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Images of Taraneh Hemami's Alphabet of Silence and Ala Ebtekar's Under Every Deep A Lower Deep Opens
This conference brings together educators, curators and makers from the Muslim world to discuss the opportunities and challenges of teaching and curating this material in the United States. It combines the didactic expertise of San Francisco State University, the curatorial knowledge of the de Young and the creative brilliance of internationally renowned artists. This event takes place in advance of the de Young Museum’s highly anticipated fall 2018 exhibition, Muslims and Fashion Now. Free to $20.
de Young Museum, Koret Auditorium, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, SF State School of Art, SF State Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies
Event extras: 


$20 admission. Free for museum members, students and educators with ID. To reserve your seat, please email us at Nov4deYoung@gmail.com, and let us know if you are a Teacher, Student, Museum Member or Other.

Keynote speaker: Shiva Balaghi, Ph.D.

Balaghi is project director at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles. For nearly two decades, she taught history and art history at New York University and Brown University. She has written dozens of essays on Iranian art for museum catalogues and art publications in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East. Her books include Saddam Hussein: A Biography (2005); Picturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution (co-edited, 2002); and Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East (co-edited, 1994). Her recent curatorial projects include retrospectives of Parviz Tanavoli (co-curated, Davis Museum), Ghada Amer (AlSerkal Avenue, Dubai) and Marcos Grigorian (Frieze London).

About this event

Hosted by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and SF State, with support from SF State’s Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies and funding from the Spencer Foundation.

This dynamic and important conference is one of several kickoff events for the new Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies. Under the leadership of Professor Persis Karim, the center creates a vigorous, dynamic and fresh approach to researching Iranian diaspora communities as well as showcasing their artistic and cultural contributions across the globe.

The Spencer Foundation, established in 1962, is intended by founder Lyle M. Spencer’s direction to investigate ways in which education, broadly conceived, can be improved around the world. Dedicated to the support of high-quality research in education broadly construed, the foundation supports research in education and related disciplines, research training for education in the U.S. and abroad, and a variety of fellowship programs at the pre-doctoral, post-doctoral and senior levels.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.


Introductions, 10am – 10:45am

  • Welcome from Renée Dreyfus (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), SF State School of Art (Mark Johnson) and SF State Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies (Persis Karim)
  • Keynote address: Shiva Balaghi

Panel 1: Contemporary Art, 10:45am – noon

  • Introduction: Rijin Sahakian, independent writer, arts organizer
  • Deena Chalabi, associate curator of public practice, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Kathy Zarur, Ph.D., curator and lecturer, SF State and California College of the Arts
  • Ala Ebtekar, artist, founder and director of Art, Social Space and Public Discourse, Stanford University

Lunch, noon – 1pm

Panel 2: Architecture and Design, 1pm – 2:15pm

  • Introduction: Renée Dreyfus, curator, ancient art and interpretation, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
  • Santhi Kavuri-Bauer, Ph.D., associate professor of art history, SF State
  • Dena Al-Adeeb, artist and Ph.D. candidate, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, New York University
  • Taraneh Hemami, artist, curator and senior adjunct, California College of the Arts

Panel 3: Fashion, 2:15pm – 3:30pm

  • Introduction: Jill D’Alessandro, curator, costume and textile arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
  • Reina Lewis, Ph.D., professor of cultural studies, London College of Fashion
  • Shereen M. Sabet, Ph.D., owner and president, Splashgear LLC
  • Saba Ali, stylist, writer, Style by Design

Closing remarks, 3:30pm – 4pm


Images, from left: Taraneh Hemami, Alphabet of Silence (2000), and Ala Ebtekar, Under Every Deep A Lower Deep Opens (2014). Ebtekar image courtesy of Gallery 16, San Francisco.