Dr Renata Holod Lecture

Tonight I braved the cold (19 degrees) was able to attend a lecture by Dr. Renata Holod on “On Regimes of Lighting: Vision & Memory in the Great Mosque of Cordoba.” She was at the UMN for The 3rd Annual Carl Sheppard Memorial Lecture in Medieval Art History. It was a really interesting lecture on the Great Mosque and the use or lack there of light inside. I also ran into a few people that I have not seen in years, so it was really nice to see them. Here is the blurb on the event:

“Please join us on Thursday, November 13, 2014, at 7:00 p.m., 120 Andersen Library, for the 2014 Annual Carl Sheppard Memorial Lecture in Medieval Art History, this year presented by Renata Holod: “On Regimes of Lighting: vision & Memory in the Great Mosque of Cordoba”. Professor Holod is a professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania and the Near East Curator for PENN Museum.

Professor Holod will present her newest iteration in a series of studies on the interior of the Mosque of Cordoba. Utilizing digital tools for the recreation of lighting, she will suggest a fuller experience of the interior. She argues that further variation so lighting could be used to understand more fully the aesthetic impact intended by the designers of al-Hakam’s complex extension and addition of the mid-10th century CE. Only by recreating regimes of lighting in interiors can one begin to gauge aspects of historical and cultural experience in such spaces of memory.

This event is presented by the Center for Medieval Studies and co-sponsored by the James Ford Bell Library. It is free and open to the public. No reservations are required.”


Chapter just published!

A book chapter I wrote awhile back has just been published! Well, apparently it came out in February 2014, but I never received my copy from the publisher (my copy is suppose to be in the mail as I type this). So I tired to ILL it at the library and the UMN decided to purchased it (no they did not buy it because of me. They tend to purchase ILL requests these days if they fit into the collection) and I finally received it. I tend not to consider anything I write “officially” published until I see it live, in person, and in print). The 2 volume book is Muslims and American Popular Culture and you can purchase it from Amazon.com for $124.45 http://www.amazon.com/Muslims-American-Popular-Culture-volumes/dp/0313379629/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398217934&sr=1-1

My chapter “Mosques in Minnesota” is based off of my masters thesis work studying mosques in Minnesota.

Here is the full citation: Aho, Melissa. 2014. “Mosques in Minnesota,” in Anne R. Richards and Iraj Omidvar, Editors, Muslims and American Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, Inc., 305-315.


Muslims and American Popular Culture Aho chapter

Busy Monday

Today I attended a talk/discussion called “Recapturing & Reconfiguring Contemporary Islam in SE Asia: Contemporary Islam Indonesia: Cultural Reconfiguration in Performing Arts.”

I do not know that much about Islam in Indonesia, so it was an interesting discussion. Unfortunately it was only 1 1/2 hours long, so some of the speakers were not able to finish their talks and other people did not get a chance to talk at all. I think a better idea would have been to have an all day event. But still, the speakers were very interesting and I was able to say hello to Dr. Cathy Asher. Cathy was my adviser for one of my undergrad degrees, the one in art history and is a super nice lady. She teaches some great classes (I have taken both undergrad and grad classes with her) on Islamic art and has a few fantastic books out on Islamic art in India.

The speakers include:
Diyah Larasati, Assistant Professor, Dance Program, University of Minnesota
Gadis Arivia, Founder of (Asia Women’s Journal of Indonesia)
Catherine Asher, Professor of Art History, University of Minnesota
Sumarsam, Professor of Music, Wesleyan University
Soeprapto Soedjono, Professor of Fine Art, Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta
Giancarlo Casale, Moderator, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Minnesota

I was also able to purchase U of MN student art from a vending machine. I could not resist the skull coaster for $1.00! But sadly it got stuck and would not fall (yes, I even tried to shake the vending machine). So I ended up leaving my business card and it was given to a instructor in the art department who rescued it and kindly sent me an email. I will pick it up tomorrow.

Jonathan Bloom lecture

Today I was able to attend a lecture by Islamic Art Historian Jonathan Bloom. He was speaking on “Color in Islamic Art and Culture.” It was an interesting talk about the perception or construct of color in the Islamic world (ex: green = good, which everyone knows; red and yellow = bad, well sometimes, etc). I have read a few of Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair’s (wife, co-author, and Islamic Art historian) books over the years (I have been trying to buy a copy of ‘Minaret’ for years, but its really hard to find), so it was nice seeing them live and in person. After the talk I went up and had their book “Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power” autographed. Yep, I am a total geek when it comes to getting books autographed.

University of St. Thomas and my MA Qualifying Paper

The University of St. Thomas Library finally got around to cataloging my Master of Arts in Art History Qualifying Paper (aka Thesis). I graduated back in May of 2009, so its only taken them 8 months (yes, I have been looking for it in the library catalog)! Not too bad.

Here is what the record looks like in their library catalog:

Author Aho, Melissa Kay.
Title Masjid An-Nur : building meaning in a Minnesota mosque / submitted by Melissa Kay Aho.
Pub Info 2009.

Bookmark link for this record
UST-OSF Archives LD4834.S5674 A2857 2009 IN PROCESSING – LIB USE ONLY
UST-OSF Stacks LD4834.S5674 A2857 2009 AVAILABLE
Descript 107 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Notes Paper (M.A.)–University of St. Thomas (Saint Paul, Minn.).
Summary “This study examines the architectural history of the Masjid An-Nur and shows that the Muslim community in North Minneapolis came together to create something unique, something they felt could easily fit into the constructs of their non-Muslim neighborhood, while at the same time honoring their religion’s history and tradition.”
Author University of St. Thomas (Saint Paul, Minn.). Art History Dept.

And here is the MARC record:

LEADER 00000nam 2200000 a 4500
090 LD4834.S5674|bA2857 2009
100 1 Aho, Melissa Kay.
245 10 Masjid An-Nur :|bbuilding meaning in a Minnesota mosque /
|csubmitted by Melissa Kay Aho.
260 |c2009.
300 107 leaves :|bill. ;|c28 cm.
502 Paper (M.A.)–University of St. Thomas (Saint Paul,
520 “This study examines the architectural history of the
Masjid An-Nur and shows that the Muslim community in North
Minneapolis came together to create something unique,
something they felt could easily fit into the constructs
of their non-Muslim neighborhood, while at the same time
honoring their religion’s history and tradition.”
791 2 University of St. Thomas (Saint Paul, Minn.).|bArt History

UST-OSF Archives LD4834.S5674 A2857 2009 IN PROCESSING – LIB USE ONLY
UST-OSF Stacks LD4834.S5674 A2857 2009 AVAILABLE

Five days, two lectures, and one flight to Forest Lake

Its been a pretty busy past few days. Today (11/10/09) I flew (with help from Instructor Steve) from the Anoka County Airport to the Forest Lake Airport (which is located right next to a corn field!). Once there we did some hovering, landings and takeoffs and then headed back. If you drive it- its about 15 miles away and takes about 20 or so minutes straight up 35W. But flying via helicopter takes about 10 minutes! It was such a beautiful day too. We flew over the Running Aces Racetrack (which looks kind of sad with no ponies running) and on the way back near the Lino Prison. This was the first time that I was able to fly to another airport. My flying is coming along. I can hover for about 15 or so seconds before I veer off and I can takeoff without the left skid coming up (a no-no) most of the time, I can land with just a few little hops, and I can stay kind of even for a few seconds (before veering off) when I am taxiing the helicopter. Below is a photo of me taken today after our return from the Forest Lake Airport.

Then this afternoon I attended the lecture “The Mongols in Iran” by Dr. David Morgan, a History Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As I just reviewed a book on Mongolian history, I was interested in hearing about their adventures in Iran. It was an interesting talk and Dr. Morgan is a good speaker and had the audience laughing a few different times. The big thing to remember about the Mongols is their extensive trading network (a little thing called the Silk Road) which encouraged the cultural transmission/exchange of items like medicine, agriculture, printing, astronomy, art and architecture (including some possible design influence on Brunelleschi’s Dome on the Florence Cathedral. I know, a bit odd) with Persia and China.

Then last Friday (11/6/09), I was able to attend the 15th Annual James W. Cunningham Memorial Lecture on Eastern Orthodox History and Culture lecture “In the Shadow of the Holy Mountain, Athos” presented by Dr. Theofanis Stavrou of the U of MN History Department. I have been going to the Cunningham Lectures for a few years and this one was the best I have seen so far. Dr. Stavrou gave a good lecture and had some beautiful slides of Mt. Athos. I recall reading about Mt. Athos in William Dalrymple’s wonderful book ‘From the Holy Mountain’ and I something about it from Sir Steven Runciman (who was a totally fascinating scholar), so it was nice to hear about the holy place again (which I might mention does NOT allow women…grrr).


MN Chapter of the SAH Fourth Annual Student Symposium

The Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians Fourth Annual Student Symposium

September 26, 2009, 8:30a.m.-1:00p.m. Free and open to the public!

Location: Owens Science Hall (OWS) and O’Shaughnessy Science Hall (OSS), University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN (checkout the map if you are planning on attending, as these buildings are hard to find).

Parking available in adjacent lots.
For information on getting to campus and campus maps see:

A light breakfast will be served beginning at 8:30a.m. in the lobby of the

Session One (two concurrent sessions)
9:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.

New Readings of Modern Classics

The Double-Tongued Enchanter (Tyrone Guthrie and Ralph Rapson)
Martina Foss, Iowa State University

The Architecture of the “Ill-Tempered” Environment: Re-reading Banham for a Revised Theory of Environmental Control
Julia L. Sedlock, University of Illinois at Chicago

Fallingwater and Zen
Adam Childers, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Transforming Bankside: The Tate Gallery of Modern Art
Elizabeth Henderson, University of St. Thomas

Memorials and the City

Time, Space, and Memory: Chronotopic Views of Architectural Restoration in the Late Roman Empire
Andrew Ruff, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Bur Oaks, Bronze, and Boyhood: A Brief History of Cochran Park
Erin Lovell, University of Minnesota

Creating “A Work of Genius”: The Origins and Program of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Competition
Eva Quigley Timmons, University of St. Thomas

Session Two (two concurrent sessions)
11:00a.m. – 1:00p.m.

Fabrication and Consumption of Culture

Making History: Ethnicity, Locality and Business in an Italian Specialty Store
Caitlin T. Boyle, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The Invented Swiss Architecture of New Glarus, Wisconsin: A Case Study and Formal Analysis of the Glarnerladen Antique Store
Stefan Osdene, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Musée du Quai Branly: Adventures in Transparency
Kristine Elias, University of St. Thomas

Branding Our American Architectural Heritage: Weyerhaeuser’s Role in the 1920’s Housing Industry
Jillian DeCoursey, University of Minnesota

Architecture, Politics, and the City

Digging Deeper: Massimo Vignelli’s Subway Map and the Redesign of the New York Subway, 1968-1975
Emma Boast, University of Chicago

“All that Space”: Philip Johnson and the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
Alexander Kauffman, New York University

Masjid An-Nur: Building Meaning in a Minnesota Mosque
Melissa Aho, University of St. Thomas

Envisioning Detroit: Detroit’s Michigan Central Station and the Politics of Representation
Nate Millington, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Graduate Student Forum, Part 2

So the big event has come and gone. Thank goodness! My talk on “Masjid An-Nur: Building Meaning in a Minnesota Mosque” went well. I talked a bit fast (13 minutes total talk time, I had a total available of 15 minutes. I was so nervous I dont know if I even smiled!), but people seems to have liked it and I received some good feedback.

Here are some photos from the event (before, during and after) at the University of St. Thomas. There was a very nice reception afterwords with some great food (here is me and my advisory Heather- yep, thats me looking dazed and very tried). I also took a few photos of some buildings on campus: the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium where the event took place (it also holds the classrooms for the art history department, so I know that building well) and the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library.

Map making

I made a very cool series of maps today, from 2008 to 1991. Well…making them in the loosest sense of the word. The GIS was already done and I just found the building that I needed (a mosque) for a couple of different years and then selected the layers that I wanted. The only tricky part came when I tried to print and save. They would not. So I ended up Print Screening and then Cut and Pasting from there.

If you are looking for maps of the Minnesota area checkout NorthStar Mapper at http://www.lmic.state.mn.us/chouse/northstarmapper.html and also the Minnesota Historical Aerial Photographs Online http://map.lib.umn.edu/mhapo/index.html

Masjid An-Nur from above, 2008
Masjid An-Nur from above, 2008