I had to pack up two years worth of stuff in my studio space today because our program is painting/remodeling the space. I didn’t want to have to do this until the actual end of my stay here, but I guess I should really start adjusting to the fact that even though I will be in Doha for roughly six more months I’m really just in a place of transition.. wrapping up the space helped me identify some of the more meaningful things I have collected during my stay. I was even pleasantly surprised when the flowers I pressed more than a year ago fell out of one of the textbooks I was packing into a box.. I pressed them because they are the same blossoms I grew up with in Kuwait.
I know most people don’t need tangible manifestations of their experiences with people and places to retain a sense of them, but I do.. and its incredibly important to me to hold onto these things as witnesses of my life narrative, or something like that 😉
Ghadah Alkandari is one of my favorite artists of all time, and she happens to be Kuwaiti. Today I got a chance to participate in a project she is working on called The Traveling Tap. Basically each person who gets a hold of one of the 5 traveling taps she painted gets to take a photo of it, and then upload that image to Instagram with specific hash-tags and location information. I think its a wonderful project, I love how her taps are traveling the world and living a life of their own. I’m honored to have been allowed to take a photo for the project.
I found these Polaroids in the graduate studio at VCUQ. I “borrowed” them for this photograph. I find them incredibly beautiful. They are the test strips from a project all the graduate students were part of term one on my first year.
While I was complaining one day to one of my closest friends about the black and white nature of my emotions, he suggested that perhaps I should consider myself on more of a gradient, perhaps that would be easier to bear..
Obviously not all the work I am doing for my thesis is sketches and experiments, a great deal or it is reading and note taking. I’m really liking my new notebook. Above are the notes I took from a book that focused on the very first and most important relationship in most peoples lives; their relationship with their mothers. Everything I’ve read on the topic is fascinating. This isn’t the first time I’ve been interested in exploring this relationship either, clip here to see my photographic project on the same topic.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
It wasn’t until a few weeks after Amsterdam that I realized that I wanted to change my thesis direction. It wasn’t until after the semester had ended that I found this image from my trip to Amsterdam. Out of all the totem poles in that park I only photographed that one, I only cared about that one.. It seems to me looking back on a great many things in my life that I’ve always been headed in the same direction. Perhaps its time I stopped worrying about where I am going and starting trusting that I’ll get there regardless.
I think one of the smartest choices I made last semester was to join the basic drawing and water color community classes at VCUQ. The classes started a few weeks into the semester so I had a chance to get adjusted to the new schedule and they only lasted for 8 weeks. I took basic drawing with Ben Barbour, a soft spoken artistic fella. I honestly feel sorry for the man, I just had the worst case of low self esteem in his class, but he always had something positive and encouraging to say.. I really enjoyed his class. In fact I was signed up to take his summer class until I decided to fly away to Kuwait for the summer, now I’ll be in his class over the fall semester.. One of the big things I am looking forward to about the fall actually. Above are the last two drawing I did in his class [Ben brought in fish for our last day of drawing, it smelly, weird, and fun].
Above is the last painting I did in Charles Bleick’s (Chuck) water color class. I also really enjoyed Chucks class, except it was at 5pm on a Thursday, which made going to it feel more like a chore than a pleasure some days.. But that isn’t a comment on the quality of the class, just the fact that the class was on the last hour of the last day of the week.. which is generally when people are just wiped out.. which I always was. I’m really debating about whether I should sign up for painting in the fall as well.. I feel like there just wont be enough hours in the week to get it all in.. We’ll see..
The following is an email that I sent to both my counselor and one of my closest friends at 3:57AM on April 25th. The only edits I made were to correct spelling, and add a few missing words.
I just had a nightmare..
I was with a group of people that were trying to catch a person who wanted to kill me. We were asking around for clues and details.. He was obviously a very sick person, it wasn’t clear why he needed to kill me (somehow this part seemed very important, why was consuming my thoughts instead of who was he and how do I find him). Through investigation my group found proof as to who the person was, it turned out that I knew him, and I knew why he wanted to kill me, and that he has tried to kill me before, but I couldn’t remember him. So one of the my friends took me to the side as the man was walking up the street we were on, approaching us, but before he was close enough to see he told me that I knew the man, I didn’t believe him, he told me that I knew what he looked like, I didn’t believe him, then he told me that I knew why he wanted to kill me.. But I still couldn’t believe/remember, so he gave me prompts to remind me of what he looked like “his hair was grey, wasn’t it?” my friend asked, “yes it was” I answered, not even knowing where the answer was coming from. “he was tall, with broad shoulders” he asked, “yes he was”.. The picture my friend was painting was so clear in my mind, so real that as the man approached it all made sense that it was him, when he finally was almost inches away from me (he was walking right past me, like watching, but not ready to kill).. I blurted out “it’s him”. My friends gathered around him and pulled him to the ground, apparently he planned to burn himself alive after killing me, he was cover in gasoline. But he couldn’t ignite the fire.. not because he couldn’t physically do it, but he was crying to himself about something. My friends were trying to create a spark, they wanted him to die accidentally as they were capturing him. I didn’t want him to die. I kept wondering why he wanted to kill me, I felt sympathy for him. I wondered if I deserved to die, if he had a valid reason. He was obviously mentally disturbed, he was crying to himself about something. I was so convinced that he must have had a valid reason, that I had possibly hurt him somehow, that I kept picturing in my mind that lighting him on fire would be like lighting my baby sister, I could see her face catch fire and burn. I wanted to defend him from my friends. I needed to protect him. They couldn’t understand, even though i explained to them how i felt.. they just kept trying to cause a spark. The images of my sister burning were too painful to keep seeing that I woke up..
In the dream I wasn’t me, I was a man. And my friends were not friends I know in real life. But I could feel these things to be true..
The worst thing is that I feel like this dream is about myself. That the man who was trying to kill me is the sick part of myself that’s always trying to hurt me. That I feel so much sympathy for that part of myself. I worry that it’s sickness has a valid reason to want my destruction.. My friends and counselor have been trying to point that part of me out through clues, and now that I’ve found her they want to kill her, but I want to protect her.. I have to protect her.
I believe dreams are a means by which a person can understand their unconscious mind. They are important to me, and they often inspire my creativity.
My school has an amazing habit of setting up all these interesting workshops and lectures through out the year. Though towards the end of the semester I didnt have time to make it to even the lectures I really wanted to hear, on the second day after we flew back from Amsterdam I attended a workshop that I had signed up for weeks earlier. Honestly I was surprised I had the energy, but it was really worth it. The workshop was by the Beaded Prayer Project.
The name of the Project comes from the shared etymology of the words “bead” and “prayer.” In Old English, biddan, from which “bead” is derived, means “to ask” or “to pray.” The concept for creating packets with potent contents was inspired by traditions among different peoples from Africa and the African Diaspora.
In this workshop we were given pieces of fabric, bits of string, and some beads. Each person wrote a prayer on a square of paper, placed it in the fabric, and stitched it up with string and beads. After walking around the gallery a few times I decided I wanted to make something really special, and I wanted to play with the properties of fabric (yup, my materials class was always on my mind). Anyway, I knew I wanted to make something out of an Origami fold, but what? When I wrote my prayer, realized it was mostly about achieving inner peace and happiness, and so I decided it had to be a crane (which is a symbol for happiness in wisdom).
We only had 45 minutes to put our prayers together (did I mention we had to make two? One for ourselves, and one for them? though we could keep both or give both).. had I known how long it took to fold and sew each fold I may not have done it.. thank God for ignorance.. In the end everyone in my group got to hang our prayers on the same wall.. it felt nice having my prayer mix with everyone esles. And the whole process of setting down to sew was very calming.. I really enjoyed it.. hope they come back next year 🙂
Sometime last year I decided I was going to experience everything I could possibly experience in one lifetime.. as part of that decision I am constantly poking my nose into places that look interesting. This week at VCUQ I witnessed a Kimono demonstration by a very lovely, soft spoke, Japanese women. I hadn’t realized that the Murakami exhibit was part of events that will be going on all year to celebrate the 40 year relationship between Qatar and Japan. Also this week I stopped by to see what the freshmen from both VCU-Richmond and VCU-Qatar had put together as part of the Richmond’s students visit to Qatar. I love it when students take over the hallways and feel free enough to claim their school as their own.. lets hope they create more chances to do so!
My sister is out of school for a week so I decided to take her to the Murakami exhibit at AlRiwaq art space, in front of the Museum of Islamic Art. I didnt think anything would be able to top Cai Guo-Qaing‘s fireworks show for at least a while, but I was wrong; this exhibit was fantastic. In one room there was this huge circus tent, with flower cushions on the floor and we sat on them and watched anime for half an hour.. I felt like I was in a completely different universe.. All I could think about during the whole experience was Bruce Sterling’s talk about “suspending disbelief”.. today was the first time I suspended my disbelief.. it was an amazing feeling.
On the way out the lady at the front desk handed my sister and I this build it yourself paper doll.. we enjoyed putting it together ourself 🙂