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Visual Arts | continued from previous page

Left, Mother Earth; right, The Summit

Using what Bushrui calls “the eye of the heart as well as the eye of the mind,” Gibran was reaching for that melding of reason and spirituality that the great English poets called “Imagination,” with a capital “I.” “It’s a formidable combination,” Bushrui says. As a Christian in mostly Muslim Lebanon, Gibran had to learn “not the language of confrontation, but of identity,” Bushrui says. That said, the Lebanon of the early 20th Century was quite different from the Lebanon of the early 21st Century, with Muslims, Christians and Jews largely living in peaceful coexistence. Gibran’s Christianity was key to his future success, in that it gave him a link to the rich literary culture of the West. “Ever since the Roman emperor Constantine became a Christian, Christianity became the religion of Europe, and therefore the religion of the West,” Bushrui explains. While Gibran always tried to find the common ground between the great world religions, Christianity was his core belief system, with its core tenet of forgiveness and the opportunity for personal transformation. “What were Christ’s last words on the cross?” asks Bushrui. “‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ What is the main message of the Lord’s Prayer? ‘Forgive us our trespasses and forgive those who trespass against us.’” So how did the Telfair end up with so much Gibran art? That’s an interesting story in and of itself. From his first days in America, Gibran’s best friend and most energetic patron, both personally and financially, was Mary Haskell, who had a passionate connection to Gibran in many ways.

“Their relationship is very complicated,” laughs Sammons. “At some points they’re like lovers and at some points they’re like mother and son. But they always had a great friendship, and like most friendships it evolved.” While at one point there was a discussion of marriage, Haskell ended up marrying Jacob Minis, member of the influential Savannah/Lowcountry Minis family. The real Savannah connection, however, is through Haskell’s mother, from the local Alexander family. Gibran willed all his letters and art to Haskell upon his death, which came in 1931. While Haskell donated her personal correspondence with Gibran to the University of North Carolina, she chose the Telfair as recipient of his visual work, saying “There when I was a visiting child, form burst upon my astonished little soul.” Sammons says the reason the Gibran collection isn’t often displayed at the museum is because of the fragility of the paper. However, next summer the exhibit will come out again because of the visiting conferences of two important Lebanese heritage groups who are sponsors of the book. Sammons suggests that people, especially Telfair members, contact the museum to suggest the work be displayed more often. “It would be in the best interest of Savannah if more Savannahians wanted to see this art displayed more frequently,” she says. cs The Art of Kahlil Gibran exhibit is at the Jepson Center through Jan. 23. The book The Art of Kahlil Gibran is available at the gift shops of the Jepson Center, the Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Owens–Thomas House, and online.

JAN 12 - JAN 18, 2011 | WWW.CONNECTSAVANNAH.COM

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Profile for Connect Savannah

Jan. 12, 2011 Connect Savannah Issue  

Featuring Savannah metal band Kylesa; remembering Spitfire Poetry Group founder Clinton Powell; Live Oak Public Libraries annual gala; versa...

Jan. 12, 2011 Connect Savannah Issue  

Featuring Savannah metal band Kylesa; remembering Spitfire Poetry Group founder Clinton Powell; Live Oak Public Libraries annual gala; versa...

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