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Arabic calligraphy artist contributes to stained glass masterpiece



Megan Wallgren | Lehi Free Press

One of the world’s premier Arabic calligraphers visited Lehi this week as part of Holdman Studios Roots of Humanity project. Kuwaiti artist Ali Al-Baddah shared his vision for a stained glass “Faith Panel” that will tour with Holdman Studios’ “Seven Pillars Windows.”

Created as part of Holdman Studios’ Roots of Humanity project, the “Seven Pillars Windows” are stained glass panels illustrating seven key characteristics of humanity: knowledge, creativity, faith, love, unity, freedom, and courage. Each window showcases scenes and symbols from around the world to represent these characteristics. The seven stained glass panels travel to locations across the globe to inspire and unify individuals as part of the human family.

“Ultimately, we are all humans, even if we have differences in shade, colors, and religion. We are all humans. It’s the common thing that brings us together,” said Al-Baddah.

Al-Baddah created the design with a partner and fellow calligraphy artist, Khaled Alsaei. Once completed in glass, al-Baddah and Alsaei’s design will become the panel representing faith in the seven pillars windows when it tours the middle east.

The calligraphy in the faith panel represents the six elements or pillars of faith in Islam. These include belief in Allah, angels, the books of Allah, Allah’s messengers, the day of judgment, and divine decree. The words in the design form a tree Al-Baddah, referred to as a tree of faith. “The language is vibrant because there can be many names for one thing because of its different parts,” he said. Al-Baddah and Alsaei chose the colors of the calligraphy very carefully because each color has a meaning that adds to the message of the piece.

Al-Baddah has more than 45 years of experience as a calligrapher and researcher. He calls this Arabic calligraphy “the most important art in our culture.” He calls written language one of the purest art forms because the form is unique to each language and expresses each culture’s unique identity.

His first visit to Holdman Studios was a learning and sharing visit. Al-Baddah shared the design and worked with artists at Holdman Studios to learn more about how to create it in stained glass. “It’s very exciting. I believe we can create a new art that will take stained glass and Arabic calligraphy to another level,” he said. He will return with his partner, Alsaei, to create the glass panel later this year.


Tom Holdman, founder of Holdman Studios, said Al-Baddah is the first of many international artists who will visit Lehi as part of the Roots of Humanity project. He’ll be inviting artists and scholars from around the world to participate in the project, culminating in a spiral building of stained glass windows representing cultures, history, traditions, and beliefs from around the world. Called “The Sphere of Light,” the building will be located at Thanksgiving Point, and Holdman hopes to complete it in 2029.

Holdman said the vision for the building came to him as he walked the London Bridge on a sleepless night several years ago. “As I looked out over the waters, I saw the beauty of humanity. We are so connected. We all want the same thing. Our hearts are the same,” he said. He envisioned a spiraling-stained glass building that would show those connections. “Any great act on human beings’ part will fall into these. They all work hand in hand together,” he said.

“We’re ready to take the artwork and message to the world that we all have the same desires, goals, and dreams of family and being loved and happy,” said Holdman.

The traveling “Seven Pillars Windows” will also be a part of the building. Holdman’s wife Gayle calls the Seven Pillars, which have already been well received whereverthey’ve been displayed, “a piece of art that reflects all of humanity.” It represents the world’s most practiced faiths and cultures. She said they wanted to create a worldwide piece that speaks to all of us.

Gayle said, “Every piece of the design has a purpose. It’s meant to teach and to enhance our experience.” The message is, “We have stewardship for each other and the planet.”

Holdman Studios is fundraising for the Roots of Humanity project and the Sphere of Light building. To learn more, visit

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