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Riaz Rafi and Bruce Colburn
Urdu Calligraphy in Paint

This project is by two artists, one Pakistani and one American. Their paintings showcase the language and calligraphy of Urdu.
What we do:
The idea is very simple: we use fine art as a vehicle to spread the love of this language, and Pakistani culture in general, beyond Pakistan’s borders.
How we do it:
We make oil and acrylic paintings in which the subject matter itself is Urdu words or passages. We then exhibit them, bringing the beauty of this language to the widest possible audience.
Why we think it works:
Over 3 billion people use common languages that have close affinities with Urdu (the Arab World, because they share a script; India, because Hindi’s spoken form is very similar to Urdu; and Iran, because Urdu’s script and about 30% of its words come from Persian). So we decided to leverage Urdu’s familiarity to spread appreciation for the language, and hopefully for Pakistani culture in general, to a wider international audience.

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