Life Size

mediasmall0005 Last time I visited my friend,  Ahmed Fadaam, he was working on this foam sculpture he will call “Media” at the UNC art lab. He took foam sheets like those pictured above, glued them together and placed them on a metal armature, and carved a beautiful life-sized running woman to represent run-away headlines in the news. Ahmed showed me how he used a heated wire to cut through the foam, then refined his surfaces with rasps and finally smoothed with sandpaper. In this image her arms have not yet been put into place, but he is much further along in the process now. Ahmed Fadaam with "Media" in progress

Eventually this sculpture will be covered in headlines cut from newspapers and I think it may be placed somewhere on the UNC campus when it is finished. He was kind enough to let me do a little carving on the back leg and a very tiny bit on the hair.

I hope you enjoy these images. I feel so fortunate to have Ahmed as a friend. I’ve learned a lot from him. He has shown me several materials including this one that he believes will help me push myself further as a sculptor. How do you thank someone so generous and kind, who helps make your dreams come true?

Vandalized in Vain

Here is a video of the aftermath of an act of vandalism on a sculpture during the mold-making process. I’m sad, embarassed and disappointed that this horrible thing happened to the sculpture Ahmed Fadaam was working on.

“Welcome to the US, where we have this very precious, special thing called “Freedom” we’d like to share with you poor people of Iraq who have been beat down in your own country. Maybe you can learn from us!!”

What do you say to a man who has tried so hard to do the right thing -the best he can figure out what that is -from what I can tell? I watch him talk to people who ask him pretty tough questions about Muslims, about Baghdad, the war, Iraq, the treatment of women and he responds graciously.

Ahmed named this work “Civilization”, which he explained to me is a feminine word in his language and is considered a feminine quality, hence the title of the video is “Civilization Destroyed”.

The sculpture has now been repaired by Ahmed. Resilience.

A hand in it

DSC_2 0482 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 DSC_2 0486hand 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.

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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.