Arts & Culture

Even though Muslims make up nearly a quarter of the world's population, the political, religious, historical, and cultural aspects of Islam are not known or understood by most Americans. The Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech is hoping to play a part in changing that with an "Islamic Worlds Festival."

It will be a 360-degree view of the large and diverse world of Islam. Impossible to do, that is unless you focus the lens of the arts on this rich topic. 

Whatever your thoughts on fashion, it seems clear that what a woman wears can speak volumes about her, before she ever utters a word. 

In part three of our series on the upcoming Islamic Worlds Festival at Virginia Tech’s Center for the Arts, we explore the message of the hijab: the headscarf worn by Muslim women here and all over the world.

“From what I see as someone that wears a headscarf is, I walk with my religion on my head. So it is a little bit harder.”

The arts have a unique ability to embrace complexity; to hold a variety of ideas at once. They can foster exploration not always possible through other routes. That’s the idea behind the Islamic Worlds Festival at Virginia Tech’s Center for the Arts, which opens next month. 

"There’s such a cultural clinging to tradition that is both admirable and sometimes problematic, but that’s in every culture; if you hold too strongly to tradition."

Jon Taylor / Creative Commons

In 1949, the merchants of Roanoke decided to hype the holiday season with a giant star.  Made from 2,000 feet of neon tubing, the star sits atop a mountain - visible for sixty miles from the air, and this summer it has a new claim to fame - standing at the center of a theater festival.  

Wikimedia Commons

This summer, thousands of tourists will visit the Civil War battlefields of Virginia, its premiere national park, the ornate capital in Richmond and a quirky little spot nearby, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.  Most expect to learn more about a guy reputed to be depressed, disheveled and often drunk.  In fact, Poe was also known in his time for comedy, and the ladies found him charming.

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