For the first time in more than a decade, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is putting together a major exhibition of Islamic art.
Organizers hope it'll widen Tennesseans' conception of art from the Muslim world.
"Ink, Silk & Gold" has been three years in the making. It includes more than 100 works from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
"One of the things one comes away with is the recognition there's really no such thing as Islamic art," says Frist director Susan Edwards.
The exhibition includes works from the eighth century to today, and from Spain all the way to Indonesia. The art is religious and secular, and ranges from poetry to design.
"So it really does enrich our understanding of the breadth and depth of this culture," says Edwards.
The Frist last did an exhibition of Islamic art in 2003. This show comes at a time when some have begun to worry about Muslims' influence in Tennessee. There's been a debate over whether to teach middleschoolers the religion's basic tenets.
"I think it's become something that is more top of mind now than when we began organizing this exhibition," says Edwards. "So, it's really important for us to learn what we're talking about here."
The exhibition opens Friday with a lecture from Museum of Fine Arts curator Laura Weinstein. It runs until January.