I spent yesterday at a studio space near Elon University, NC with my new friend, Ahmed Fadaam, a sculptor who now works as a journalist for the New York Times. He’s a visiting scholar at UNC Chapel Hill. The art school where he taught in Baghdad, Iraq was burned down after the war broke out.
Ahmed is finishing up a life sized sculpture of a woman which will be placed on the Elon campus.
When I walked into the studio, the first thing I noticed was the overall beautiful flow of the lines in his work and then the excellence of the hands in his sculpture. There will probably be eighteen hands in total.
You can tell a talented sculptor by his or her skill with hands.
Ahmed asked if I wanted to touch it – to work on it and then he told me he wanted me to sculpt one of the hands -to use my own hand as a model. He laughed and said I could tell everyone I had a hand in it.
I was surprised and delighted, but also nervous that he might not be pleased with my work. I’ve never made a life sized sculpture and here Ahmed gave me the opportunity to help him with his. He let me make the clenched fist of the woman.
Many people came into the studio. Ahmed was gracious with everyone. He invited people to touch the sculpture and answered a myriad of questions about Baghdad, the war, how women are treated, about his family and the meaning of this sculpture, including what each hand represents.
Ahmed has such a comforting, inviting presence. People are drawn to him.