Mohammad Saleh Amin was born in Khair Khana, northern Kabul. Having finished high school Saleh took the decision to enroll at the Turquoise Mountain Institute. Although neither Saleh’s family nor friends took an interest in the craft, Saleh found himself drawn to calligraphy and miniature painting from a young age. It was a dangerous hobby in the age of the Taliban, but now at the age of 25 it is Saleh’s profession, and he owns his very own thriving business. Saleh is particularly inspired by the Moghul and Behzad schools of design, and his work is typically Afghan in his sensitive use of the local pigments, Lapis lazuli, gold and silver. http://www.turquoisemountain.org/
Jorge Benitez is an Assistant Professor in the Communications Arts Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. He holds an Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University where he currently teaches drawing, art theory and the history of visual communications. His theoretical interests derive from an earlier career in advertising as well as his fluency in French and Spanish. He developed an interest in the conflict between words and images in the 1990s when Americans began to describe their national divisions as a “culture war.” He currently participates in regional and international exhibitions, and his work is represented in corporate collections and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Reni Gower is a Professor in the Painting and Printmaking Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her art work has been showcased at international and national venues for over 30 years. In 2014, she was the recipient of three awards for outstanding teaching that include the College Art Association’s Distinguished Teacher of Art Award, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Distinguished Teaching Award and VCUarts’ Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award. In 2008, she was also recognized by VCUarts with an Award of Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service and by the Southeastern College Art Conference in 2007 with an Award of Excellence in Teaching. In addition to her teaching and painting practice, she curates award winning traveling exhibitions. Several of her projects that are currently traveling include FABRICation since September 2013, Heated Exchange since 2012 and Papercuts since 2011. She is the recipient of numerous grants including a NEA / SECCA Southeastern Artist Fellowship and Virginia Commission for the Arts Project Grants. Her work is represented in various collections including the Library of Congress Print Collection, Pleasant Company / Mattel, Inc, the American Embassies in Lima, Peru and Osaka, Japan, Media General, Inc, and the Federal Reserve Bank. She holds an Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, an Master of Arts degree from University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. www.renigower.com
Tamim Sahebzada was born in Kabul, and comes from a long line of calligraphers tracing back to his great-great-grandfather. His family has been crucial in the preservation of the Behzad School of illuminated work. Tamim was one of the first teachers to work at the Turquoise Mountain Institute, having gained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Kabul Faculty of Arts. The quality of his work was recently recognized by the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture, who awarded him first prize in their calligraphy competition. Tamim has exhibited his work widely, both nationally and internationally, and in March 2013 participated in a high profile exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. http://www.turquoisemountain.org/
Julia Townsend is primarily a painter of cartoon and surrealistic imagery. She also works in sculpture, installation, and illustration/creative writing. Her recent exhibitions in Dubai include wall drawings and shaped surfaces that explore how images travel in and out of frames. Her interest in geometry came out of two years of study at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, where she had the opportunity to learn the traditional techniques of Koran illumination. She has lived in the UAE since 2003 where she teaches in the Department of Visual Communication at the American University in Dubai. She has also taught and exhibited in Istanbul, Berlin, and Barcelona. Her current project is the renovation of a 1932 peanut processing mill in Edenton, North Carolina, US, which is becoming The Peanut Factory, an international artist retreat. http://www.juliatownsend.com/
Hanane Korchi is a freelance graphic designer, who specializes in art for identity, print promotions, packaging and web design. From 2011 – 2013, she was an interactive / graphic designer for the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar. Prior to living in Doha, she worked for Apple Canada, Inc in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She recently relocated back to British Columbia, Canada. She holds an Arts & Entertainment Management Certificate and a Graphic Design & Illustration Diploma from Capilano College, North Vancouver, British Columbia.