International Herald Tribune Writer Souren Melikian and Guest Curator Holly Edwards to Speak During Opening Weekend of Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures

For Immediate Release

June 01, 2000

Dr. Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, known to readers of the International Herald Tribune as art critic and editor Souren Melikian, will kick off a weekend of events celebrating the opening of Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870-1930, at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Melikian will give the talk "Orientalism in Reverse: The Western Image in Eastern Art" on Saturday, June 10, at 4:00 p.m. Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures opens to the public on Sunday, June 11, at 10:00 a.m. At 3:00 p.m. guest curator Dr. Holly Edwards will give introductory lecture on the exhibition and its themes. Both lectures are free and open to the public. Melikian's talk will be followed by the gala opening reception for Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

The evening's festivities include wine, hors d'oeuvres, and American music of the period ranging from classical to ragtime, and the opportunity to preview the exhibition. Tickets are $35 ($25 for members). To reserve, call 413-458-2303, extension 403. Souren Melikian holds doctorates in Persian literature and civilization as well as in Islamic art history from Sorbonne University.In addition to his International Herald Tribune column, he is a research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris.

A scholar of international renown in his field, the cultural history of the Iranian world and its sphere of influence, Melikian is the author of numerous books and articles, including the standard history Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World. Holly Edwards is an independent scholar and expert on Islamic Art. She graduated from Princeton University and received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Art, New York University. Edwards is a visiting lecturer at Williams College and is the author of a number of articles and books including The Genesis of Islamic Architecture in the Indus Valley and Patterns and Precision: The Arts and Sciences of Islam.

She is co-author of the Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures catalogue. On view through September 4, Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures traces America's fascination with an imagined, exotic Middle East. Beginning with paintings by Frederic Edwin Church and John Singer Sargent and extending to widespread dissemination in popular culture, including films such as Rudolph Valentino's The Sheik, over one hundred objects illustrate the associations conjured up by the Holy Land, Egypt, and North Africa in the popular imagination of turn of the century America. Organized by the Clark Art Institute, Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures will travel to the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, October 3 to December 10, 2000, and to the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 3 to April 22, 2001.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit

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