Cultural Tourism DC Calendar

Back to Website

Floating Islands Exhibition Opening: ‘The Beauty in Imperfection’ @ Japan Information & Culture Center, Embassy of Japan
Aug 24 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Join us for a special lecture, demonstration, & performance with show curator and renowned ceramist Akira Satake, and distinguished Ikebana artist Sheila Advani to mark the opening of our new exhibition, “Floating Islands: Ceramic Ikebana Vessels.” 

To open our new, collaborative exhibition, Mr. Satake will join us for a special lecture in which he will talk about his work and experience as both a ceramic and ikebana artist, focusing on his creative philosophy and his personal vision for this exhibition. He will discuss some of his work as a composer, and will perform a mini concert with shamisen and banjo. Distinguished Ikebana artist Sheila Advani, who holds the advanced master degree of komon from the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, will also join us for this lecture to discuss the history and schools of ikebana, and her own views regarding the relation of an Ikebana arrangement to its ceramic vessel. Following her lecture, Ms. Advani will hold a live demonstration of an ikebana arrangement.

About the Presenters

Akira Satake was born Osaka, Japan and has lived in the U.S. since 1983. He has taught master classes and workshops across the country , and has also lectured and taught workshops abroad in Australia, Belgium, England, France, and Israel. He received the National Award for Excellence in Contemporary Craft by the Philadelphia Museum, and “A Craftsman’s Legacy,” – a national television series on PBS, featured his life and work. Satake currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where he recently opened a new gallery space. He is also an accomplished banjo player and composer.

Sheila Advani was the past president of Ikebana International, Washington D.C., Chapter No.1 twice., from 1989 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2001. She holds the advanced master degree of kimono from the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, and she currently teaches Sogetsu in Harrisburg, PA. She began her studies n 1978 and has worked under the mentorship of Ruth Yochelson, Mary Sugiyama, and Chieko Mihori. Sheila has held exhibitions, demonstrations, and workshops both locally in the Washington, D.C. area and internationally. More recently, she exhibited in Japan during the Ikebana International World Convention.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required for security purposes. Program begins at 6:30 PM. Doors open 30 minutes prior. No admittance after 7:00 PM or once seating is full. Registered guests will be seated on a first come, first served basis. Please note that seating is limited and registration does not guarantee guests a seat. To modify your registration, please email Your registration is not transferable. 
Ctesiphon: An Ancient Royal Capital in Context
Sep 15 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River near present-day Baghdad, Iraq, the city of Ctesiphon served as a royal capital of the Persian Empire in the Parthian and Sasanian eras for over eight hundred years. The city’s most iconic structure was the Taq Kasra (Throne of Khosrow) palace, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Built by the Sasanian ruler Khosrow I (reigned 531–79), the palace’s vaulted brick throne room measures eighty-four feet across, making it the largest of its kind.

To celebrate this exceptional monument, Touraj Daryaee, Matthew Canepa, Katharyn Hanson, and Richard Kurin discuss the site’s importance and recent preservation efforts. Then, watch the first documentary on this unique monument, Taq Kasra: Wonder of Architecture, directed by Pejman Akbarzadeh, produced by Persian Dutch Network, and funded by the Soudavar Memorial and Toos Foundations. Watch the trailer.

Image: Ctesiphon; Antoin Sevruguin, 1933, Freer|Sackler Archives, FSA A.4 2.12.Sm.65

Gallery Talk: Ceramics of the Peacock Room
Sep 20 @ 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Visit the Peacock Room while its shutters are open to learn about the ceramics from across Asia that are displayed on its shelves. Louise Cort, curator of ceramics, will lead this special gallery talk. Don’t miss this opportunity to view the ceramics’ intricate decoration and surfaces in natural light: the Peacock Room shutters only open on the third Thursday of each month.

Gallery Talk: “Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography”
Sep 29 @ 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Celebrate the opening of the exhibition Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography and learn about print styles in twentieth-century Japan. Frank Feltens, assistant curator of Japanese art, leads this special gallery talk.

Ferryboat Landing at Tsukishima, from the series Twelve Months of Tokyo; Kawase Hasui (1883–1957); Japan, Taisho era, 1921; woodblock print; ink and color on paper; Robert O. Muller Collection, S2003.8.611

Gallery Talk: “Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection”
Sep 29 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Celebrate the opening of the exhibition Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection and learn about the diverse photographic works on view. Carol Huh, associate curator of contemporary Asian art, leads this special gallery talk.

Seikan Ferryboat, from the series Karasu (Ravens); Fukase Masahisa (1934–2012); Japan, 1976; gelatin silver print; purchase and partial gift from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection, S2018.2.24

Gallery Talk: “Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography”
Oct 4 @ 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Celebrate the opening of the exhibition Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography and learn about print styles in twentieth-century Japan. Frank Feltens, assistant curator of Japanese art, leads this special gallery talk.

Ferryboat Landing at Tsukishima, from the series Twelve Months of Tokyo; Kawase Hasui (1883–1957); Japan, Taisho era, 1921; woodblock print; ink and color on paper; Robert O. Muller Collection, S2003.8.611

Sufi Arts: South Asia and Beyond
Oct 13 @ 10:30 am – 1:00 pm

Join us for a morning of talks exploring Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. The program will explore the contributions of Sufi patrons, artists, builders, and poets to South Asia’s history and culture. Hear from art historian Murad Khan Mumtaz, architectural historian Peyvand Firouzeh, and religious studies scholar Omid Safi as they discuss the richness of Sufi culture, its endurance through centuries of change and conflict in South Asia, and Sufi themes of peace and harmony among all communities.

This program is presented in conjunction with the conference “Piety, Poetry, and Pluralism: Sufism in South Asia,” held at Georgetown University on October 12, 2018. The morning program at the Freer|Sackler on October 13 will be followed by a 7:30 pm performance of Sufi music in the Meyer Auditorium.

Part 1: Murad Khan Mumtaz on Images of Guidance, Power, and Devotion: Representations of Sufis in South Asian Painting
In medieval and early modern South Asia, Sufis navigated freely between different social strata and played a variety of social roles. This talk will examine the representation of Sufis in Indian painting. Mumtaz will highlight Sufi romances of the sixteenth century, paintings made for the great Mughal rulers Akbar and Jahangir in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and portraits made for elite practitioners of Sufism, such as Princess Jahanara, as well as for Kashmiri and Punjabi patrons of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Through these examples, the talk will explore Sufism’s widespread influence in South Asian culture and how artworks’ function and meaning changed according to patrons’ needs.

Murad Khan Mumtaz is an artist and art historian. A native of Lahore, Pakistan, Mumtaz was educated at Pakistan’s National College of Arts, where he first studied Indo-Persian painting. He later completed an MFA in visual art at Columbia University and received his PhD from the University of Virginia in 2018. He recently joined the art history faculty at Williams College as an assistant professor.

Part 2: Peyvand Firouzeh on Spatial Authority at the Dargah: Mapping the Politics of Power and Devotion
This talk will explore the relationship between political and religious power as represented in the dargah, or Sufi lodge, in South Asia. After introducing the dargah, Firouzeh will focus on examples from Deccan India under the Bahmanid dynasty (1347–1528). Looking into the textual, visual, and spatial elements of these sacred sites on both the local and global levels, the talk will address questions of royal and urban patronage, the interconnected networks of Sufis and artists, and strategies of religious and political self-fashioning.

Peyvand Firouzeh specializes in medieval and early modern art and material culture from the Islamic world. Her research interests include sacred art and architecture and the mobility of artistic and intellectual networks within and beyond the Persianate world. In 2018–19, she is a Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art based at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence. She holds degrees in architecture, history of art and architecture, and Asian and Middle Eastern studies from the Tehran University of Art and the University of Cambridge.

Part 3: Omid Safi on Radical Love: New Poetry Translations
One of the dominant poetic themes in the Persianate tradition in both Iran and South Asia has been that of the Mazhab-e ‘Eshq (The path of radical love). This idea, featured prominently in the work of poets like Rumi, Attar, Hafez, Sa’di, and Nezami, asserts that there is ultimately “One Love” that is connected to the force of creation and the sustenance of life. Safi will comment on this poetic tradition through his fresh translations, made directly from the original sources, in his new volume published by Yale University Press.

Omid Safi is the director of the Duke University Islamic Studies Center and a professor of Iranian studies, specializing in the study of Islamic mysticism and contemporary Islam. His books include Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism; Cambridge Companion to American Islam; Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam; and Memories of Muhammad. His most recent book is Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Traditions, which has just been published by Yale University Press. Safi is among the most sought-after speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing in the New York Times, Newsweek, and the Washington Post, as well as on PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, and other international outlets. In addition, he leads Illuminated Tours, a travel program focused on the Sufi poetic legacy in Turkey and Morocco.

Gallery Talk: “Monkeys Grasp for the Moon” by Xu Bing
Oct 18 @ 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Gain insight into the sculpture Monkeys Grasp for the Moon, on view in the Sackler’s atrium, by contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing. Educator Paul Ruther will discuss the artist’s creative process and possible interpretations of the work.

Talk: Anissa Helou on Food of the Islamic World
Oct 21 @ 3:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Hear award-winning writer and chef Anissa Helou—an expert on the cooking of North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East—share extraordinary recipes and stories from her new cookbook Feast: Food of the Islamic World. Helou has lived and traveled widely, from Egypt to Syria, Iran to Indonesia, gathering some of the finest and most flavorful recipes for bread, rice, meats, fish, spices, and sweets. In the book, she delves into the enormous variety of dishes associated with Arab, Persian, Mughal/South Asian, and North African cooking, collecting favorites like biryani or Turkish kebabs along with lesser-known specialties such as Zanzibari grilled fish in coconut sauce or Tunisian chickpea soup. Manil Suri, novelist and author of The Death of Vishnu and other books on South Asia, will join Helou for a wide-ranging conversation on food, art, and culture, followed by a special tasting.

Anissa Helou is a writer, journalist, and broadcaster. Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, she moved to the United Kingdom to study art and design. After a career as an art consultant in the Middle East, she returned to London and became a chef and food writer. Lebanese Cuisine, her first book, was nominated for the prestigious Andre Simon Award and was named one of the best cookbooks of 1998 by the Los Angeles Times. Mediterranean Street Food won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2002 as the best Mediterranean cuisine book in English. In 2013, she was named one of the “100 Most Powerful Arab Women” by Arabian Business magazine. Her most recent book, Feast: Food of the Islamic World, was published by HarperCollins in May 2018.