A modern twist on the evil eye and nazars 1

The artwork in “Amulets, Nazars & Evil Eyes” takes a contemporary looks at ancient superstition.

Queens College, as part of its yearlong tribute to Turkey featuring several college hosted talks and art exhibits, is presenting a group show titled “Amulets, Nazars & Evil Eyes” in which 27 contemporary artists look at the evil eye.

Some cultures believe that a certain gaze, or an “evil eye,” can cause injury or bad luck for the person who gets the stare down. Through time cultures have created remedies and charms to ward off these curses.

Turkey has a particularly rich tradition of talismans — including the blue and white beads known as nazars — designed to ward off this hex.

“Everyone is superstitious,” said the show's curator Tara Mathison. “Everyone has a thing that explains the unexplainable.”

“The show gives the community of Queens, as well as the students, a fun way to approach and to deal with superstition through art,”she said.

Each of the artists — who are from the United States, Egypt, Russia, Great Britain and many other countries — interpreted the theme differently. The artists’ works run the gamut, said Mathison, from photos of wobbly eye key chains to fishing nets from Ghana to prayer shawls molded into sculpture to works by a Turkish artist who created paintings of her relative's evil eye jewelry.

For examples, artist Anujan Ezhikode revisits beliefs and remedies that extend from the ceremonial rituals of his Indian youth to his Brooklyn life today. And New York painter Roya Farassat draws on the oppression of women in her native Iran and on the power of the gaze.

The artists were picked from about 100 applicants.

The show has a personal meaning for Mathison, an artist who has curated at Queens College for five years. The college may decide to cut funding for the gallery located in the college’s library, she said.

The exhibit is Mathison’s sort of humorous way in combating what may be the gallery’s last show — instead of protection against a gaze, the exhibit serves as protection against cuts to the arts.

“Superstition is how to deal with little uncertainties in life,” said Mathison. “You can let superstition control you or you can let a humor ascend it in the ritual of life.”

The gallery will know if the space gets the axe sometime next week, said Mathison.

‘Amulets, Nazars and Evil Eyes’

When: May 2 - June 29, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..

Where: Queens College’s library, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing

Tickets: Free

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