Islam Aly, “Sacred Meanings”

A view of the book showing the laser-engraved plexiglass cover, the endbands, and the laser cut sections.

The book opened showing the front and back covers, the sewing, endbands, and the engraving on the front and back covers.

Another view of the book opened.

A folio of the book showing a laser cut word and the developing pattern.

A detail of the book showing a laser cut word and the developing pattern.

Islam Aly
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Sacred Meanings
Johannot paper, plexiglass/ Laser cut, laser etching, Coptic binding with linen thread.
edition size of 40
80 pages
2.5 x 5 x 2.5
2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5

Artist’s Statement

When I make a historical book structure, I go through a learning process. I learn the history as well as the different physical aspects of the binding such as how a book form is constructed in a specific sequence. I learn about the use of different materials such as paper, wood, leather and dyes. I learn to make choices in selecting and replacing traditional materials that I don’t have access to. I use these different experiences to enhance my work in making artists’ books and to use historical and cultural references from these structures in the actual content. In essence, I wish to explore new ways to use the rich structures of historical books in contemporary artists’ book practice and incorporate contemporary content into strictly historical structures.

Description of the work

Sacred Meanings is based on the hexagon, one of the main shapes in creating grids and patterns in Islamic art. The form of the book, its words, and its progression reveals the fading and development of a pattern. The book invites viewers to consider their experiences with the transcendent and indivisible. Sacred Meanings presents an encounter that deals with the dichotomies of life, fall and rise, suspicion and faith, disorientation and orientation, chaos and order.