Meeting Mohamad Hafez at CCSU

How lucky am I to have to the opportunity to, not only meet the artists that we showcase at the CCSU Art Galleries, but also the artists who we (the art department) invite to present lectures for the students.

This week, as was the case, we had the honor to present Mohamad Hafez to speak about his most current body of work.

Mohamad Hafez Bio

When I first saw Hafez’ artwork at City Wide Open Studios in New Haven back in October and I was immediately intrigued.  It was as if gravity pulled me in closer to each piece.  The subject that his works portrayed revealed themselves to me immediately as I discovered a Middle Eastern citadel, shattered and ravaged by what one could easily identify as the trademark of war.

If anyone knows me they will know that I don’t shy away from politics.  In fact, I actually attempt to keep up with current events around the world.  And it’s not unheard of, amidst my friends and family, to have argumentative discussions about the state of world.

However, what I love more than politics is art with a powerful message.

A Refugee Nation - Shown at CWOS, New Haven, 2015.When I turned into the small room where the artist had his work displayed, I knew I had found a special treat.  This work by Hafez was skillfully crafted and installed in the perfect setting that is the Goffe Street Armory in New Haven.  A run down industrial space, the Armory space gave his pieces a sense of belonging, a kinship the works shared with the deteriorated walls, peeling paint, and rusty window frames and exposed structures.

The art history professor in our department contacted me to find a time frame for hosting an artist lecture in our gallery.  When I learned who the artist was that would be presenting a lecture, I was utterly enthused.  Admittedly, she was also a big fan of Hafez’ work like myself, and unfortunately she had missed seeing him speak at Real Artways in Hartford, so what better way to mediate that problem than by hosting his lecture for her students and the university body.

Both sides of the conflict. Shown at CWOS, New Haven, 2015.

detailShotIrrevocably, I loved everything about his lecture and message.  My favorite part of the presentation was his end goal.  He wasn’t just trying to make a statement with his artwork.  The work was born out of his necessity to feel closer to home, to his roots, and to his people rather than trying to spread his own idealistic beliefs.  He focuses his efforts on shedding these perceptions we have which corporate media has manufactured so wrongly in our minds.

He didn’t need to convince me, I was already on his side before I even saw his works of art.  I may not have first hand experience in the kind of suffering that war brings to cities, countries, multitudes of people but my empathetic heart stretches into a universe inside of me, feeling very helpless and wishing I could do more.  He did more by simply sharing his family life in Damascus with us.

He showed us the snapshots he took of every day life when he was finally able to go back to his country.  Homesick and nostalgic about the little details of his home country that most might miss if you’re not really looking, he shed light to his culture’s best aspects.  A culture where humility is of utmost importance is truly noticeable in the neighborhoods as you walk by front doors of houses completely clear of embellishment, they all look the same regardless of how much or little you may have.  He also shared how communities come together when there are neighbors in need.  He showed us pictures of a normal Friday night dinner with immediate family, gatherings of 15-20 people around the table having a grand meal and actively being a family.  It reminded me of some family gatherings I have been to myself, where family extends not only to brothers, sisters, and parents but also cousins, second cousins, uncles, aunts, and friends whom we consider family.

It was easy to relate to his stories, and though our cultures may be different, they are also so similar.

This was my take on the artwork and the artist’s presentation.  I am sure I could go on for another 600 words to critique the quality of the artwork but after all I have already said, I don’t think it’s as important as you (the reader/viewer) to draw your own conclusion and opinion.

Hustle of life

It seems I may have gotten a bit lazy about updating my page.

On the other hand, it could be  that I am getting somewhat more ambitious about my career goals and writing has been, sadly, a lesser priority.  As much as I love writing, it’s not my career choice.  This doesn’t change one of my long-term goals of writing a book….someday.

What career goals are be keeping me so busy?

Besides my two jobs, which keep me pretty busy, I am keeping my hands busy in clay.

New(er) work yet in progress
New(er) work yet in progress

Creating new bodies of work is exhausting when you find yourself always trying to buy a little time for solitude, music, and clay.  My most important goal is to develop artwork that makes sense and work which communicates what I have, for so long, been trying to say.  That in itself has been psychologically daunting because, inevitably, this incorporates some introspection.  As insightful as this process is, it is gut-wrenching when it’s not common practice.

Naturally, my next goal is to show my work, because what is the point in divulging if not to spark a conversation about it.  This takes some social skills which I am constantly trying to improve.  It includes going to galleries, meeting other artists and curators, applying for artist opportunities, and maintaining social media updated among others.

Speaking of artist opportunities brings me to other goals: find a residency (or a few) to help me grow artistically while preparing myself to find an MFA program that will take me.  This takes some research, preparation, and inspiration as well.

In the time left over for the rest of my life, I try to be with family, read a book, finally learn to play the guitar, travel, organize my kitchen, and feed myself.

It’s no wonder to myself that I can’t seem to hop on the computer to write another post.  It doesn’t mean I have stopped going to see art or even talking about it with others.  I am fascinated by the depth of learning throughout life, it’s a deep like the ocean floor and as detailed as marine life.

Still, I want to take readers on a journey of my life immersed in the arts.  One of the reasons I started this blog.  It might get a bit redesigned but its core will remain the same.  In the meanwhile, I will attempt to post more often which means more post will be simply photos of my interesting daily events.  There are so many good things happening and worry not, I will keep anyone reading updated!!

[Oh, and thanks for reading!]

 

In Memory of…

Life is short but it sure is sweet.

About a week ago the physical world lost a good soul.  Mark Strathy; artist, art professor at Central Connecticut State University, mentor to many artists and students, great boss to work with; peacefully passed away in his sleep.  My deepest sympathies go out to his girlfriend, and all of his family.

Strathy came into my life when I started to work at CCSU.  He was one (of two) of the gallery directors.  Working for him was always free of stress as much as it was always a lesson for me to simply be around him and his lectures to his students.  Those students who took his classes semester after semester talk about him as a great resource with awesome artistic skills which inspired them and his colleagues around him.

As we shared memories of Strathy, Monica Hewryk (a colleague and former student of the artist at CCSU) and I smiled at the thought of a warm chuckle from above because he used to say “You don’t get famous until you die.”

His artwork was always mesmerizing.  His large-scale oil paintings or watercolors have dreamlike scenarios in which he embedded his allegories that made you think deeply, laugh, or sometimes took you out of your comfort zone.

Let’s celebrate his life and his creative genius simply by admiring his work, through it he lives on.  After 20 years of living and having your studio in Brooklyn (Driggs Ave.), people will surely miss you.  However, you left a deep mark here in Connecticut too, and especially at Central (CCSU).

Rest in peace…

 

Call for Artists from CAFA

Phew, it’s hard to believe the whole first month of the year is already behind us.  And yet I find myself thinking about June.  Can anyone out there believe I am already thinking about June?!?  As the blizzard cold creeps into the house, I cannot help but wish for the June sun and heat.

So what’s so special about June?

CAFA’s Annual Exhibition opens June 19th at the Mystic Arts Center (MAC) in Mystic, Connecticut.  So what does that mean for artists out there?  Get your art ready, we are already receiving art work submissions online.  Visit: www.ctacademy.org for all the details.

The online entry deadline is April 10, so while you have a little bit of time, those months seem to fly by when you are having fun.  The carry-in entry date is June 14 & 15.

Expect CAFA’s 104th Annual Exhibition to be bigger and better.  Why, you ask?  For starters, we have two great jurors, Jaclyn Conley and Mark Patnode.  Click on their names, check out their websites, you will not be disappointed.  Another reason for bigger and better, we have increased some existing awards and we have added some awards, including President’s Award for $250.

If you are not an artist but are interested in visiting the gallery for an amazingly interesting and diverse collection of art, don’t miss our Awards Reception on July 2, 2015.  Details will be posted here and on our website: www.ctacademy.org, and in the Mystic Arts Center website: www.mysticarts.org.

Good luck to all who enter the competition!