OAKLAND -- A new exhibit curated by members of Christian, Jewish and Islamic groups in the East Bay opens Wednesday. The exhibit, through art and typography, promotes a look at what brings together groups that are often presented in opposition.
"Art is really a common language between all human beings," said Arash Shirinbab, chair of the art and culture committee at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California.
The exhibit, which will be up at the Islamic Cultural Center near Lake Merritt for three weeks, brings together more than a 100 pieces of art around a common theme of spirituality and tolerance.
"We all believe when you get to know other people, other groups, we'll get past a lot of our prejudices," said Lea Delson, one of the organizers and a member of Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont.
Titled "Finding Common Ground through Sacred Words," the exhibit includes everything from calligraphy to stained glass, clay to paper.
Local artist Claire Sherman is showing a quilt made for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, while her 14-year-old daughter is exhibiting a mixed-media painting. For Sherman, the exhibit shows the way the three religions are connected.
"We have commonalities as religious people," she said.
The exhibit is sponsored by a group called the Faith Trio, made up of the Islamic Cultural Center, Piedmont's Kehilla synagogue and the Montclair Presbyterian Church.
Founded after the events of 9/11, a committee with members of each organization meets monthly to plan events and activities around solidarity and dialogue.
"The most important goal the Faith Trio has is bringing different faiths together and sparking conversation," Shirinbab said.
The first interfaith art exhibit, in fall of 2011, was a great success. With a new theme, this year's exhibit is even more ambitious, with triple the number of artists shown.
"What's been really interesting about this exhibit is the wonderful outpouring of art we got," Delson said.
The exhibit was partially funded with a $3,000 grant from the San Francisco Foundation's FAITHS Program, which provides support for religious organizations providing cultural and artistic programs. Support was also provided by the Alliance of California Traditional Arts and the East Bay Community Foundation.
A public reception to open the exhibit will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday. After that, the works are viewable from May 15 through June 5 every Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be a chance to meet the artists during the June 7 Art Murmur.
"It's really important for all of us to make this platform for different faiths to come together," Shirinbab said.
Delson hopes not just the congregations of the Faith Trio but also the wider and diverse community of the city will come and engage in the art.
"It's very much a story, I think, about Oakland," Delson said.
The Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California is at 1433 Madison St., Oakland.