• Inspired by books Ink Drawing

    Inspired by books Ink Drawing



Raya Wolfsun (Rabeya Merenkov) is an artist and independent scholar with expertise in the area of Islamic astrolabes. What draws her to them is how art has been made out of these scientific objects. "There is so much going on in them," she explains. "They are layered, like poems that play across star-lore, engineering, geography, spirituality, calligraphy, and visual design."

Using the Library and collection to find inspiration

Raya has spent many hours both visiting the astrolabe galleries in the museum and also sitting in the MIA Library reading many of our books on this topic. She is especially inspired by books that look at the background stories of astrolabes and art in Islamic culture, these include: Beauty in Arabic Culture by Doris Behrens-Abouseif, 1999 (BH221.A65 B3413 1999), Eastern Astrolabes by David Pingree, 2009 (QB85 .A347 2009), Islamic astrolabists and their works by Mayer, L. A. (Leo Ary), 1895-1959. (QB85 .M32 1956) and The Time Museum by A.J. Turner, 1985 (QB85.T58 1984).  

Creating designs

While her ink drawings bear some visual resemblance to the curving arabesque motifs seen on astrolabes and many other objects, she insists that she is also influenced by some of the themes and mentalities behind Islamic art: “There are some ideas about beauty from the medieval Islamic thinkers which I find quite inspiring. On one hand, there is the notion that beauty in the world - whether in nature or something beautifully crafted - is a healing thing that produces a sense of wonder and connection to Something Greater. There is also a sense that the act of creating beautiful things should be a contemplative exercise - and when I do the ink drawings, whether standalone images or the marginalia in my notebooks, the process is indeed meditative.”

The Finished product

This is an example of Rabeya’s work entitled “The Astronomer Under”. You can find out more about Raya’s art, research, and writing on her website: www.rayawolfsun.com