My name is Andrew Kosorok. I am a Christian stained glass artist and teacher, seeking to build bridges of peaceful understanding among neighbors of different faiths. In the US we are blessed with freedom of faith, but sometimes poor information and fear overcome our natural inclination to be civil to each other. Drawing on my experience as an artist, educator, and interfaith minister, I am exploring Islam through art--and sharing what I find.
The glass sculpures are explorations of the 99 Most Beautiful Names of God of Islamic tradition, Names which serve to guide the faithful in becoming better people--similar to the Christian Beatitudes. As the sculptures are completed, they are exhibited in traditional galleries and other settings and provide a beautiful backdrop for communication among very different people. As visitors view the displays, everchanging and unique as new sculptures are finished, fascination turns to respectful curiousity, then blossoms into a desire to understand and appreciate each other.
At the displays, Christians raised to hate Muslims open their hearts to their neighbors, and Muslims feeling constantly defensive realize their neighbors are fellow beings of faith. Neighbors have a right not to be afraid of each other, and these sculptures are providing a concrete catalyst for this change to happen. As the sculptures are completed and shown, the impact expands: more people want to listen to their neighbors of other faiths, more people are grateful to find their neighbors care about them, and more people find the exhibits give them the courage to undertake their own constructive, peacebuilding projects.
The two overarching and parallel goals for the 99 Names Project are to build glass sculptures for each of the 99 Most Beautiful Names of God from the Qur'an, and to display them in 99 different cities--across the country and into the world--as the sculptures are being completed. The individual sculptures have been valued at $9000 to $12000 each, but they are not being built for profit. Each Name sculpture requires only $500 in materials, but takes about 100-150 hours to complete, and the effects they have on the people who see them are profound. The project is divided into 4 sections of 25 sculptures to make it more manageable--as each work is finished and each exhibit is shown, the positive influence of the project expands.
The glass used is German New Antique imported from Europe, the paint used is a unique blend of enamel and mason stains I developed specifically for the project, the designs and structures are all original and derived from my expanding experience with Islamic art and history. Because of the inflexible nature of glass, each sculpture is built out of paper and cardboard before final construction, and drilling holes in the carefully fit and hand-beveled pieces becomes an exercise in patience.
Sculptures for the 25 Names in the first section are completed, and thank-you gifts come from these unique images. Each donor will be placed on an email list to receive updates for the project (if desired), receives a blank note card with an image of a completed sculpture (which they in turn can use for a thank-you note of their own), a piece of glass from the glass sculpting process, and helpful suggestions on using bridge-building techniques to strengthen a diverse community. Also, wallpaper and slideshows from the series, a blank journal with cover images drawn from the completed sculptures, and fused-glass jewelry using designs from the project are among the thank-you gifts. A photo book of the first 25 sculptures with insights to what the Names mean, a selection of unique note cards drawn from the series, and an in-depth book on the process behind each sculpture are also included among the thank-yous. And, to thank the spectacularly charitable at the $5000 mark, all the preceding thank-yous will be given including a full set of note cards plus one of the new Beautiful Names sculptures built as a result of their donation, sent along with a short film documenting its first showing.
If the goal for the period is not met, all the money raised will go to building the sculptures--one for each $500 raised. And every donor will also receive invitations to the exhibits and events in which the sculptures they made possible will be shown.
Building sculptures of the 99 Most Beautiful Names is not just about building art; it is a process of open-minded bridge building and peaceful resolution of differences. The most fundamental connection in communities is between neighbors, and the most potent weapon against fear and misunderstanding is education. The sculptures provide a tangible record of our ongoing effort to overcome apprehension and strengthen society, to build stable neighborhoods based on mutual respect and appreciation of differences, and to create an environment in which our children learn the practical tools necessary to build the peaceful world neighborhood in which we wish them to grow old. By experiencing the sculptures, by visiting the exhibits, and by learning about the impact they are having, others who wish to build bridges of peace will know they have the capacity to do so, and will take their own active role in building a happier, more peaceful world.
Please tell people you know about the project and visit my website for more information; I am always happy to answer questions about bridge-building among neighbors and learning how to overcome misunderstanding and apprehension regarding those who are different. Feel free to visit my twitter feed, as well, and become a friend. And don't forget to share this project using the Indiegogo share tools--sometimes the greatest impact we can have is through the lives of those we think we merely brush against. And look for ways you can learn about those who are different, and help them feel they belong--this world is big enough for all of us.
You will receive a note card with a beautiful image of one of the completed sculptures on the front, which can be used to send a thank-you of your own, and a unique piece of ground glass from the project
You will receive a disc of high-res photos of the completed sculptures, suitable for wallpapers or slideshows for your computer
You will be sent a set of 8 note cards, each with a different image of one of the completed sculptures, blank inside so you can send your own greeting or thank-you notes
You will receive a unique piece of fused glass jewelry, which I will make from the designs and colors I developed for this sculpture series
You will receive a spiral bound blank journal, 5" x 8", with a high res image of one of the completed Beautiful Names sculptures on the cover, and the set of 8 note cards
You will receive a unique piece of fused glass jewelry, the journal described for the $75 thank-you, and a set of 8 note cards
You will receive a beautiful photo book of the first 25 sculptures in the series with insights into the meanings of the Most Beautiful Names and essays of peaceful bridge building by Muslim and Christian leaders, and a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of custom fused glass jewelry
You will receive a book collecting images of the completed sculptures, insights into the Most Beautiful Names, essays of peaceful bridge building, in-depth details of the thought processes, construction secrets, and artistic decisions made in the building of the sculptures, as well as a collection of the life-changing experiences of those attending exhibits and participating in the project; also includes the unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry piece, journal, and set of note cards
You will receive both the photo book and coffee table book, two journals with your choice of covers, two sets of note cards, a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of fused glass jewelry, and a plaque recognizing your contribution to the project will be displayed with the sculptures on display
You will receive the thank you items mentioned for the $1000 contribution, plus your choice of one of the sculptures, unique and one-of-a-kind which will never be duplicated, completed through your generosity after its initial display and a short film of its first showing