QAIC Grant Award Winning Artists: Josh Berer, Nia Alexander Campbell and Patricia Daher
The Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC) is pleased to present an exhibition of its inaugural IMPART Artists Grant awardees. The multimedia works on display by Josh Berer, Nia Alexander Campbell and Patricia Daher were supported by QAIC’s IMPART Artist Grant, an annual prize which supports the artistic ventures and incubation of three emerging and mid-career artists projects.
The grant program and the awardees Berer, Campbell and Daher, represent QAIC’s mission of cultivating expression and cultural dialogue from the United States, Qatar and the larger Arab and Islamic worlds, and philosophy of empowering artists and connecting creatives.
About the Qatar America Institute for Culture
The Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC) is a Washington, DC-based independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that creates, curates, and executes programs and research that amplify the prominence of all forms of art and culture from the United States, Qatar, and the larger Arab and Islamic worlds. To learn more about QAIC and upcoming exhibitions and programs, visit www.qataramerica.org.
Leaders and shaykhs from the Bedouin community in the Naqab/Sinai have used poetry as a vehicle for social commentary and dialogue for many generations. The tradition of publicly recited, community-transmitted oral poems, like many other aspects of traditional Bedouin life, has been threatened with extinction in the modern era, due largely to concerted attempts by Israeli authorities to curtail traditional Bedouin lifestyles and culture, in the name of modernization and in an act of deliberate social marginalization. As an oral body of work, few physical testaments to these profound poems exist, and as the older generation passes on, the legacy of this body of literature is under threat. This project, which has been a goal to produce since 2008, seeks to etch one of these poems into the physical space, and give it form and the beauty befitting the beauty of the words themselves. After more than a decade of study, I have finally attained a level of mastery in the arts required to bring this project to life and give this remarkable poem greater visibility. The poem is both a cautionary tale and a call to action- it is a rally for the young and a parting gift from the old. Although I am not a Muslim, not an Arab, and not a Palestinian, I found my life’s work and purpose in the art of a culture not my own. As such, the voice I wish to elevate is not mine. But what is calligraphy, however, but a vehicle to channel voices? It is a message delivery system made beautiful. My goal with this project was to call attention to a beautiful culture of poetry that will likely cease to exist within our lifetimes.
About the Artist
Josh Berer is a classically trained calligrapher and craftsman based in Washington, D.C. He was born in 1985 in Pennsylvania and grew up in British Columbia. He comes from a family of artists and began learning the fundamentals of craft at an early age. At the university, he studied Arabic language and moved to Yemen in 2007 where he became immersed in the study of Islamic legal theory and classical literature. It was in Yemen that he was first exposed to the art of Islamic calligraphy. He received his Ijazah [master calligrapher’s certification] in the Thuluth and Naskh scripts from Mohamed Zakariya, and is currently a student of Talik Script. He is also versed in the arts of papermaking, marbling, illumination, bookbinding, and woodworking. He speaks Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, in descending order of confidence.
Nia Alexander Campbell
Threadtales is a research project devoted to exploring my African American and American Indian ancestry. The project is informed by the narratives of the Central West African, African American, and Chickahominy communities, specifically stories experienced between the 17th and mid-20th centuries. The research draws from various historical, anthropological, and genealogical sources to develop an interdisciplinary creative project that embraces these stories. Folktales, myths, and lived experiences – both good and bad – are at the heart of the project. The research is represented through 102 images that take the form of story cubes, a tapestry, and nine narrative videos.
About the Artist
Nia Alexander Campbell is an artist, designer, writer, and educator from Richmond, Virginia. She received a BFA in Painting & Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University and a minor in Art History with an emphasis on Black art and cinema history. She later received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Design from VCUarts Qatar where she developed the modular board game Reclamancipation as her thesis. As an instructor, she uses her creative knowledge and passion for social equity to teach those who will become future decision makers.
Nia’s creative practice explores the ways collage, writing, and traditional & digital painting methods can be used to tell stories through design. She believes that storytelling in any medium can function as an excellent way to combat ignorance, give a voice to the otherwise unheard, and bridge the divides wicked problems create. In both her visual and written work, Nia is passionate about inclusion and sharing the experiences of marginalized communities, making a point to depict more than just trauma narratives.
The Alphabet Collection is a visual study of the fabric of global writing systems, past, and present. The Alphabet is the DNA of communication, and repetition, a transcending tool as each letter vibrates to infinity. This work was first inspired by working with dyslexic students who perceive letters in oriented forms. Exploring, expanding, and exhibiting this collection is an act of cultural reclamation of narrative and history through highlighting its Middle Eastern origins and the Phoenicians’ contribution to spreading the alphabet worldwide.
Bridging the world of meaning to the world of pattern, The Alphabet Arabic explores the forms of the language of the holy Quran. Arabic is the most visually organic of the world’s alphabets, echoing forms of nature. The Alphabet Arabic Installation and the eight drawings visually investigate the patterns of Arabic letters as their palette and forms are inspired by the energy and colors of Qatar.
About the Artist
Patricia Daher (b. 1988) is an American Lebanese multidisciplinary artist, poet, and environmental activist based in New York. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art with a concentration in Painting and Near-Eastern Religions along with two minors in Art History and Mathematics from Hunter College, New York. Her Master’s degree is in Art Market Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. Daher started her career as a Mathematics Educator who contributed to the academic success of hundreds of students to then proceed on a different path as a Visual Artist who produces autobiographical paintings, drawings, collages, and relational aesthetic performances that encourage dialogue and invite a change in perspective. Her many interests which include world cultures and religions, mythology, science, archeology, nutrition, sustainability, and alternative healing methods inform the themes she explores in her work. Having experienced war in 2006, she chooses to go beyond and create autobiographical vibrant worlds that explore cultural histories and concepts promoting peace and balance in society and with nature. Daher’s work has been exhibited at various galleries in New York, of which NeueHouse and Biggercode Gallery. A recipient of the Wave Scholarship, Catalyst scholarship award, and the IMPART Grant Award, her work has been published in Hyperallergic and featured in books such as Drawing with Dynamic Perspective by Meryl Rosner.
Sprig can refer to either decorative adornment or the act of propagation. One takes cues from the built world and the other from horticultural design. My work in sculpture and print is created from a personal lexicon of glyphs that encode and diffuse the entanglement of images and ornament associated with plant life. The resulting artworks grow from the slippage between function and beauty. Reflecting on the deep historical relationship of printmaking and the decorative arts, these works engage with applications of printed textiles and paper surfaces alike. The world-building in this exhibition is a call and response of discrete and intertwined processes within 2D and sculptural form. These rhythms of symbiosis and separation are emphasized in instances of reflection and removal as elements in these works are repeated, lost, regenerated, and propagated.
I work across sculptural and print processes to create art that is reflective on spaces between the constructed world and the natural environment. I am attentive to instances when technology and architecture interact with nature. This relationship is highlighted when forms influence each other, are designed to accommodate each other, and even directly incorporate elements of one another. I navigate occurrences that are equal parts built and happenstance. They include instances of natural elements that are embedded within the built world or cultivated to meet the circumstances of a larger design. Through elaborating and essentializing these observations into print-based artworks, I incorporate what I discover in my study of the environment in both direct and indirect ways. I reference activities that tangle image and meaning, such as the naming of wild plants and the design of structures in public space, as evidence of the intersection of nature and built design.
About the Artist
Lauren Pakradooni lives in Philadelphia, PA. She received an MFA in Printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design and a BA from Hampshire College. Pakradooni is a multidisciplinary artist working across printmaking, sculpture, and sound. Her work reflects the tension between the natural and built world through glyphs in form, shape, and patterns. Pakradooni has performed and exhibited work with many venues including; The Print Center, Peep Space, Planthouse Gallery, Space 1026, Monaco, Skylab, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Epsilon Spires, Cheymore Gallery, the University of Texas at Austin, and Leisure Gallery. She has been awarded residencies by the Women’s Studio Workshop, Wassaic Project, and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. She considers teaching a part of her creative work and has taught courses in Printmaking, Drawing, Sculpture, and multidisciplinary practices.
Archetypes is an exploration of the black, white, and gray in society. It is an exploration of their precarious balance in our world. This exhibition reflects Barbour’s surroundings and our shared history as much as it reflects himself and his personal history. It shows off the type of individuals that are of interest to him as well as those who share his interests.
The artist does not seek to define these familiar archetypes so much as to describe them–delving into the aspects of humanity that he finds familiar. This allows him to sympathize with individuals that may be seen by society as black, white, or gray to create a more nuanced understanding of the world.
Each drawing is based on what feels right to the artist aesthetically. His goal is to create first and then use the finished piece as a springboard into the subconscious. This process allows these archetypes and individuals to change and evolve as the artist evolves during this process. The meanings of each piece change over time. They reflect both external influences and internal projections.
Archetypes is an attempt to discover why these aspects of familiarity are so important to the artist. They help him understand how these aspects of humanity, “the black, the white, and the gray”, ultimately define him.
I create art that is a balance of shadow and light. I seek to capture this ever-changing equilibrium in hopes that we may lose ourselves in the moment. That we may find some peace within the struggle.
We enter this world as beings of pure light. Life introduces us to the shadow. As conscious beings, we struggle to create a balance between these two opposites.
Humanity is full of ideals and contradictions. I use art to tell stories that capture the full spectrum of what it means to be human. Our pursuit of happiness is punctuated by our constant struggle to live in this world. I use art to give framework to the feeling of drive and failure.
Humanity speaks through ambivalence. I know this ambivalence well. As a person of color without an immigrant story, I struggle to re-define a sense of identity. I study the past to redefine my perspective. I search for the black, the white, and the “indelible” gray.
About the Artist
Neville Barbour is a DC native who believes that our past remains with us for a reason. We must choose how to reinterpret it. We must process it so that it does not fester. He has participated in over 23 domestic and international juried exhibitions. He won “Best in Show” at Touchstone Gallery’s 2020, “Us” exhibition in Washington, DC. He’s currently exhibiting
works at the Museum of Science + Industry in Chicago, IL for their “2023 Black Creativity exhibition” and the African American Museum in Dallas, TX for their “Caroll Harris Simms National Black Art” exhibition. He currently has a piece in the permanent collection at the David Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts & Culture of African Americans and the African diaspora.
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