"Curiosity and war led artist to the Koran"
By Brittany Woolsey
November 8, 2015
What is the Koran? Does it stir animosity in the United States? If so, why?
These were questions that artist Sandow Birk raised as he began following in 2003 the news of the war in Iraq, a U.S. action that he opposed.
"I was listening to all the general discourse of Islam and people questioning what Islam was," Birk said. "Is it incompatible with Western civilization? All these ideas were flying around. I've been to Islamic countries in my surfing trips, and the way I'm hearing people talk about Islam is nothing like the experience I had in those countries.
"I think I just got tired of listening to the media tell me what Islam is, and I thought, 'I'm just going to figure it out for myself.'"
Birk, who grew up in Seal Beach and now lives in Long Beach, decided to study the Koran and paint his interpretations of it.
He learned that the book is strikingly similar to the Bible.
"The first and most unexpected thing, if you know nothing about the Koran, is that it's remarkably familiar," said Birk, who said he does not subscribe to any religion or spiritual belief. "It's the story of Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, Abraham and Isaac, Jesus and Mary. It's all those stories that you've heard from Christianity.
"They're a lot more related than we think. Muslims would say they're the same religion."
The artwork project, which took Birk nine years to complete and has been on display, in part, in museums around the country for the last few years, is now being shown in full for the first time — at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach.
To read more: http://www.latimes.com/socal/weekend/news/tn-wknd-et-1108-sandow-birk-20...