2017 Event Series


Slow Fiber Studios’ 2017 event series Algorithmic Aesthetic is inspired by the themes of the exhibition Reverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art inspired by Traditional Islamic Art, organized by the Center for the Arts and Religion (CARe). Curated by Islamic Art scholar Carol Bier and displayed in the Doug Adams Gallery at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, the exhibition features seven contemporary American artists of diverse cultural and artistic backgrounds whose works draw upon the rich visual heritage of traditional Islamic art.

The Reverberating Echoes exhibition posits that rather than Eurocentric assumptions of decorative ornament, when examined in cultural context a defining feature of traditional Islamic art is an “algorithmic aesthetic” of pattern. Algorithmic Aesthetic will explore relationships between art, music, mathematics, and language by following threads of Islamic cultural heritage, weaving between the ancient and the contemporary, tradition and innovation. Through conversations, lectures, workshops, and demonstrations, the series will investigate a range of topics including fine art, systems, music, architecture, calligraphy, and mathematics.

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An Algorithmic Aesthetic of Pattern: Examining Traditional Islamic Textiles
Carol Bier | May 27, 2017 | 11am – 2pm
Slow Fiber Studios Office | 696 Hilldale Ave, Berkeley, CA 94708


Photo courtesy of Carol Bier

Local Islamic art and textile scholar Carol Bier’s illustrated lecture will explore the origins of an algorithmic aesthetic that permeated arts throughout the Islamic world in the 9th-12th centuries. Participants will have an opportunity to examine and handle a variety of Islamic textiles in addition to works in other media, and to consider processes of pattern-making based on design algorithms. Regional, cultural, and religious specificities will also be discussed.

Carol’s presentation will be followed by a potluck social open to the public.

Presentation (registration required) 11am – 12:30pm
Potluck Social (open to the public) 12:30pm – 2pm

Carol Bier is curator of the exhibition Reverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art inspired by Traditional Islamic Art, on view through May 26 at the Center for the Arts & Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, as well as Visiting Scholar at its Center for Islamic Studies. She is Research Associate at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., where she also served as Curator for Eastern Hemisphere Collections. She has authored numerous articles on patterns as intersections of art and mathematics.

Visiting Artist: Dr. Mamoun Sakkal


An internationally acclaimed calligrapher and type designer, Dr. Mamoun Sakkal is founder and principal of Sakkal Design in Bothell, WA, which has received multiple awards for calligraphy, graphics, and type design. He was commissioned to design the Arabic typefaces for Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and his Arabic fonts are now widely used as Windows system fonts. He lectures on Islamic art and Arabic calligraphy, and his artwork is in several museum and public art collections.


Engineering Ornament: Square Kufic Calligraphy in Textile Design
Dr. Mamoun Sakkal | Saturday July 1, 2017 | 10:30am – 12:30pm
Slow Fiber Studios Annex | 1825 8th St, Berkeley, CA 94710


Photo courtesy of Mamoun Sakkal

Originally used to decorate building surfaces, Square Kufic calligraphy soon found its way to other materials including coins, paper, and textiles. Calligrapher and type designer Dr. Mamoun Sakkal will present the intriguing use of Square Kufic calligraphy in textile design over many centuries, including an overview of the style’s origins and design principles as well as a review of its use on textiles such as prayer rugs, talismanic shirts, modern dress, and national flags.


Engineering Ornament + Introduction to the Art of Arabic Calligraphy
Dr. Mamoun Sakkal | Saturday July 1 – Sunday 2, 2017 | 10:30am – 5pm
Slow Fiber Studios Annex | 1825 Eighth St, Berkeley, CA 94710


Photo courtesy of Mamoun Sakkal

A prized visual art for millions of Muslims around the world and a fascinating visual treat even without literacy, Arabic calligraphy is uniquely dynamic in its potential to engineer images with words. Learn the concepts and basic principles behind this beautiful cursive script from a luminary of Arabic calligraphy and type design. Following his opening lecture on the use of Square Kufic calligraphy in textile design, Mamoun will give a hands-on workshop including an overview of the origin and development of Arabic script, a survey of traditional styles of Arabic calligraphy, and examples of contemporary calligraphic art. Learn the forms of Arabic letters in various styles and take home your samples including your own name in Arabic.

* Includes a ticket to Mamoun’s lecture Engineering Ornament: Square Kufic Calligraphy in Textile Design.

Visiting Scholar: Dr. Jay Kappraff

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A professor of mathematics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Dr. Jay Kappraff is an awarded scholar recognized for interfacing mathematics, science, art, and music, promoting the idea of a common language of design and geometry. A prolific lecturer, he is also the author of numerous articles and books including A Participatory Approach to Modern Geometry (2014), Beyond Measure (2002), and Connections (1990).


Mathematical Foundations to Islamic Design:
Classical Tilings and the Work of Dr. W.K. Chorbachi
Dr. Jay Kappraff | July 3, 2017 | Venue TBA | Berkeley, CA


Photo courtesy of Jay Kappraff

Interdisciplinary mathematics scholar Dr. Jay Kappraff will expound upon the work of Iraqi artist and scholar Dr. Wasma’a Khalid Chorbachi, who sought to prove there was a solid mathematical basis to Islamic design despite common sentiment to the contrary. Follow her research from its origin in an ancient practical artisan guide discovered in an Iraqi library through her examinations of pattern symmetries to her discovery of how to use mathematical principles to generate classical Islamic tilings. Jay will anecdote her story with his own explanations, including an examination of one design which can be shown to be based on three proofs of the Pythagorean theorem, and reveal an algorithmic approach to creating countless designs.  

Visiting Artist: Phil Webster


Phil Webster is a Santa Cruz-based artist trained in mathematics and cognitive science at MIT. His work, often employing contemporary technologies such as 3D-printing, laser-cutting, and dye sublimation, addresses the intersection of mathematical form and pattern with ancient design tradition.

Source: Exhibition Catalog, Reverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art Inspired By Traditional Islamic Art


Subject: Fractal Islamic patterns, and printing & laser cutting as artistic tools
Phil Webster | September 3, 2017
Event details TBA



Algorithmic Aesthetic Opening Social
Carol Bier + Chris K. Palmer | April 2, 2017

Shadowfolds by Chris K. Palmer


Hira-Ori: Shadowfolds for Shibori Techniques
Chris K. Palmer | April 22-23, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Chris K. Palmer


Reverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art Inspired by Traditional Islamic Art
January 31 – May 26, 2017 | Tuesday, Thursday, Friday | 10am – 3pm

Doug Adams Gallery
2465 Le Conte Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709

Reverberating Echoes Exhibition Catalog

Biographies referenced from Reverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art Inspired by Traditional Islamic Art Exhibition Catalog by Carol Bier