Arabic calligraphy meets stained glass art to create the ‘Sphere of Light’

Sep 3, 2023, 10:19 PM | Updated: 10:47 pm

LEHI, Utah — An artist from Kuwait has traveled to Utah to work on what will become the largest stained glass art creation in the world.

The creation of Arabic calligraphy combines an artistic flourish with the beauty of the written word.

Ali Albabbah describes his art form as”… which is the most important art in the Arabic and Islamic civilization. And it can show a lot of beauty and a lot of feelings in our language.”

Albaddah is an internationally recognized artist from Kuwait whose works grace galleries in mosques and private homes. Human and animal images or depictions of nature are not found in Arabic and Islamic art, as Muslims believe those are all God’s creations and should not be imitated.

Ali Albaddah working on the mixture of Arabic calligraphy and stained glass art. (KSL TV)

But Albaddah’s latest work is a first – he joins artists from Holdman Studios in Lehi to create a one-of-its-kind Sphere of Light – a building of stained glass. He said the piece would bring together religion, art, and architecture.

Tom Holdman, the Founder of Holdman Studios, was inspired to create the project.

“History of the world is written in art. The Arabic countries have flourished into this visual art form that is so elegant and then powerful,” Holdman said.

He said both art forms are ages old but are part of a new vision, which Albaddah agrees with.

“With the beauty of the Arab calligraphy and the beauty of the stained glass, we show a new kind of art, or we show the people a new thing,” Albaddah said.

Ali Albaddah and Tom Holdman working together. (KSL TV)

Holdman showed KSL a nearly finished portion, the Seven Pillars of Humanity.

“There are good walls, and there are bad walls. Here’s the Berlin Wall, here’s an actual piece of the Berlin Wall, and we are tearing down walls to build bridges. And that unity leads to love,” Holdman said of the piece.

Two different art styles have come together in the creative process. Albaddah has discovered people who have become more than friends.

“Very beautiful people, very kind people… I didn’t feel like I’m working with strange people. And I told them many times, I am feeling like you are my family,” he said.

Tom Holdman showing the “Seven Pillars of Humanity.” KSL’s Carole Mikita. (KSL TV)

Gayle Holdman said her team feels the same.

“To create a piece of art that has the possibility to speak to the world, we need to speak with the world. So to be able to have Ali and his colleagues come and share with us their life experience … that’s beyond what we were hoping for,” Gayle said.

In addition to the richness of the colors in these stained glass creations, the artists believe they are making a statement.

“Love is better, more better than hate,” Albaddah said.

“Coming together, better than fighting each other. So, this is our message.” Tom added, “What better way to show the diverse beauty in all of us than the medium of mixing art glass.”

Sphere of Light will eventually be constructed at Thanksgiving Point as a place of reflection to show people of all cultures and faiths how much we have in common. The projected completion date is 2030.

An artist’s interpretation of the “Sphere of Light” that will be in Lehi, Utah. (KSL TV)

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Arabic calligraphy meets stained glass art to create the ‘Sphere of Light’