Egyptian Moments, Roxbury Connections (image courtesy of ArtROX!).
BOSTON, MA - The American Islamic Congress (AIC) promotes the exchange of ideas between Muslims and non-Muslims. One noteworthy and creative exchange that they are sponsoring is Egyptian Moments, Roxbury Connections. This is an exhibit of works by five ArtROX! artists who traveled to Egypt on separate occasions. Their discoveries of the place were discussed at length at a gallery talk held this week at the AIC's center on Newbury Street in Boston.
Snapshots of Ekua Holmes' visit adorn one of the side walls in the center's gallery. These photographs are framed with papyrus that Holmes marked up with silver hieroglyphs. They capture everyday scenes like the auto parts merchant with his refurbished mufflers that stem from a metal pole or a quiet moment at the river.
“From a tourist’s standpoint,” said Holmes, “Egypt is known for the little papyrus paper with drawings that are replicas of things that are inside the pyramids. I didn’t want to just put them in a frame, but to look at my preconceptions about Egypt, like the Sphinx, and the pyramids, and the papyrus, and all those symbols of Egypt juxtaposed with what I actually saw there. So these symbols on the frames come out of the hieroglyphic tradition, but the pictures are of what I actually saw.”
Lucilda Dassardo-Cooper used multiple media to document her experience, including video, prose, and oil on canvas. Of all the media that she used, the paintings speak most clearly about what she saw and how she experienced Egypt. One illustrates a street scene in a very modern Egypt where two women are standing at a busy city intersection. This could be any intersection in the world, but look closer and the Pharisee and winged Egyptian gods are standing with the women, too.
Hakim Raquib traveled from Cairo to the Red Sea and said he spent a lot of his time in the desert. One of his photos is a larger-than-life-sized image of a camel’s foot; and another is a highly digitized image of an Arab drummer in motion. “I was very interested in the Nubian culture, which was a little bit different from the Egyptian experience,” said Raquib.
Derek Lumpkins photos of mosques stemmed from his need for “an oasis.” He said that overpopulated Cairo drove him to these holy temples for their peace and solace. “I was completely caught off guard by the city,” Lumpkins exclaimed. “It’s 18 million people living, working, and breathing, and it was hard for me to process what was going on and take it all in until I was at the mosques because they were more quiet.”
In another part of the gallery, Basil El-Halwagy presented Electrostar, a six-foot-tall superhero in a blue spangled suit with a crown of many stars on his head. El-Halwagy said his inspiration came from being Egyptian American and living in Egypt as a child.
“Electrostar represents a perfect clockwork in harmony with the universe,” said El-Halwagy. “It’s called Electrostar because it’s both inspired by arabesque architecture and the stars and shapes that you see in these patterns, but it was also inspired by an experience of mine in my physics class.”