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.

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Photography Artist: DeAnn Desilets

So here I am, in snowy Connecticut, stuck at home.  Though, truthfully, I am grateful for having a snow day and some time to write.

Today I picked DeAnn Desilets to focus on.  She made it into CAFA’s very selective online photography exhibition with both of her entries.  Her story telling is just what I needed in this cold, windy, and wintry day.  Below are her entries.

These two photographs came from Desilets’ body of work titled “Landscapes Through the Looking Glass.

Waiting for Alice - DeAnn Desilets
Waiting for Alice – DeAnn Desilets
Magic Mirror - DeAnn Desilets
Magic Mirror – DeAnn Desilets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t you think these photographs have an eerie sort of dreamlike quality to them?  If you felt as I did, like I dropped into the set of a magical fairytale, it’s because the artist was trying to do just that.

Photographer Desilets has, as the opening of her artist statement, a quote by Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax:

     “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”

Through her imagery, Desilets tries to twist your ordinary, familiar perspective to evoke an inquisitive feeling of possibility and exploration meanwhile creating a sense of mystery.  If you visit her site and see the entire series, you can all see the settings she created.  The context in which she places the viewer changes wildly from photo to photo, leaving the viewer puzzled and widely open to interpretation through own experience.

One aspect of her work that really makes me appreciate it more so is her awareness about our responsibility for sustainability, and subtle hints of it found within her work.

What kind of emotions does her work evoke from you?  I’d love to know! Please comment if you thought her work was interesting and/or insightful.

January Cold Keeps Us Motivated

Good morning readers! It’s bright and early on this Thursday morning, still bitterly cold outside as the sun slowly comes to cover us all with its sheer warmth.  As the second full week of January comes to a close, I find myself going and going like the energizer bunny.  My theory?  I’m just trying to keep warm.

Things are moving along with CAFA, and at CCSU we are on the brink of another exhibition opening a week from today.  But I don’t want to write about that (yet…I will just not now).

Today I wanted to write about fine art photography artist Cynthia Matty-Huber.  She was awarded the 1st place in our Online Photo Exhibition for her image “John Hoiland in his Livingroom” which you can see in my recent post New Year = New Possibilities.

Matty-Huber, a Montana-based photographer, has a grasp on the harsh reality that is the rancher’s life and the everyday hard chores that make up their  livelihood.  Somehow she has been able to capture the strong hardship, the years of hard labor in a quick, in a snap of the camera.

The following was Matty-Huber’s second entry into CAFAs competition, which is another beautiful depiction of the american rancher in the rugged north-western landscape.

Cynthia Matty-Huber, "John Hoiland an 87 year old lone rancher of McLeod Montana"
Cynthia Matty-Huber, “John Hoiland an 87 year old lone rancher of McLeod Montana”

Every distinguished wrinkle line on his face that contrasts against the lighting really seems to bring the viewer’s focus to his deep complex expression.

Photographer Matty-Huber has a great body of work, please check out her full portfolio here, you won’t be disappointed.

Comments are always welcome…

New Year = New Possibilities

Hello readers, happy new year 2015!!  I hope wonderful things come your way in the coming year!

Let me tell you about our Online Photo Exhibition if you haven’t read about it yet.  It is the very first of its kind for Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts who is finally making an online presence.  Well, I’m happy to announce that our online exhibition was successful.  It’s juried and up for viewing here!!

In case you didn’t click on the link just yet….Spoiler Alert! Here’s the first place winner.

matty.j1
John Hoiland in his Livingroom by Cynthia Matty-Huber (Livingston, MT)

It means so much to us at CAFA that we were able to reach so many fine art photographers to participate in this competition.  We had photographers from Australia, Norway, and nearly 25 states from the USA were represented.  This is the kind of results I want to see for our competitions.

Our juror Michael Yurgeles was magnificent at electing a diverse group of highly skilled compositions.  I encourage everyone to take 5 to 10 minutes to integrate yourself with the photographs we are presenting in our exhibition.  You won’t be disappointed.

In the coming weeks, I will write a piece about some of the artists in the exhibition.  I want to give you a more in-depth look into their passionate work.  Until then, I hope your eyes feasts on the beauty of each image we present.

Photography Artist Call

I hope this flyer finds photographers everywhere!!!

 

ExhibFlyer1