The French/Moroccan artist works with traditional craftsmen to reinterpret classic motifs and employs age-old techniques in ceramics, textile embroidery, and now glass
Through the summer of 2015 Art Jameel, in partnership with Edge of Arabia, features Artist-in-Residence Sara Ouhaddou (b. 1986 in Morocco, lives and works between Paris and Morocco). Ouhaddou is taking part in a residency program in Brooklyn, New York at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), in collaboration with Art Jameel and Edge of Arabia.
Sara Ouhaddou is an artist and designer dedicated to preserving and reinterpreting dying craft techniques and to using them as the base for her contemporary art practice. Through her residency in New York City, Ouhaddou is adapting previous explorations in textile and ceramic tile, though glass.
Ouhaddou’s ongoing exploration of traditional Moroccan designs and forms began in 2011, when she first started researching Islamic geometry. Imbued with strong spiritual and cultural significance, Islamic geometry forms a longstanding cultural language used in craft, architecture, clothing and art across the Islamic world. Motivated by a curiosity around adapting this visual language to modern forms, as well as a desire to support traditional craft techniques at risk of being forgotten in contemporary Moroccan society, Ouhaddou set out to collaborate with craftsmen and women in her home country. In doing so she created modes of dialogue between artisans as well as supported micro-economies.
Working closely with master craftsmen in South Morocco’s Ourika Valley to use locally sourced natural clay, Ouhaddou’s handcrafted ceramic tile collection is influenced by the delicate mosaic tradition of Fez with its Spanish and Arabic roots. Each tile, of which there are five distinct patterns, is hand sculpted and unique as a result of the firing technique, which creates subtle variations. The works combine handcrafted detail with a contemporary dynamic tension evoked through a bold use of space and depth. Ouhaddou later developed a partnership between the craftsmen of Ourika Valley in Morocco and the craftswomen of Limoges in France, to create a collection of tiles in thin, almost translucent porcelain.
Tetouan, a town in North Morocco, is known for its unique embroidery patterns that developed through historic cultural links with Andalusia, Spain. Working with young student in the Dar Sanaa school, Ouhaddou developed a curriculum to teach traditional embroidery and to explore modern adaptations of classic motifs through embroidery on textile, as well as on recycled scraps of rubberized-cloth. Young women with restricted schooling, Ouhaddou’s collaborators worked with her to create a range of adaptations, gaining skills and economic opportunities through the process. Through sculpting, layering, embroidering and polishing rubber scraps, Ouhaddou also worked in Tetouan to design a series of modern stools. Ouhaddou also partnered with Berber communities in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains to re-launch collectives of women led, societies of weavers, working to create a modern collection of fabric and carpets using traditional weavers’ techniques.
During her residency at the ISCP, Ouhaddou aims to explore adaptations of her designs in glass, partnering with small-scale glass artisans in Brooklyn to develop models she can use on her return to Morocco. Handmade glass, once a staple in Morocco, has been largely abandoned in the face of mass-produced glassware. Ouhaddou hopes through her work to help revive traditional techniques in collaboration with locally based craftsmen.
Ouhaddou was selected for the ISCP residency along with Ayman Yossri Daydban (Palestine / Saudi Arabia) and Zeinab Shahidi Marnani (Iran) from over 200 applications submitted by artists living and working across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This is the second annual collaboration between the ISCP, Art Jameel and Edge of Arabia.
About Sara Ouhaddou
Ouhaddou graduated from the Olivier de Serres in Paris. She has taken part in artist-residencies at Atla(s)now Artist Residency, Morocco (2015); Africa-Center, South Africa (2014); Dar Al Ma’mun, Morocco (2014 and 2013); and Trankat, Morocco (2014). Awards include the Special Jury Prize at Wanted DESIGN NYC (2015); an Arab Fund for Art and Culture grant (2014); the Fondation of France, Fondation Vallet Laureate (2008/2011); and the L’Oréal Brandstor contest (2010). Ouhaddou participated in the Africa Design Weeks, Casablanca (2015); Dubai Design Days, UAE (2015); French Institut and Intitut du Monde Arabe Paris open call on Morocco Culture (2014); and Paris Design Week (2014); and also held an exhibitions of her work at the Moulin d’Art Contemporarian Toulon, France (2015); Gaite Lyrique Tanger, Tangiers (2014); and Marrakech French Institute (2014). In addition to her work blending art/craft, Ouhaddou has also worked to create brand design and scenography for such international brands as Lancome, Viktor & Rolf, and PreljocaJ ballet. While in the US for her current residency, she also produced a street art mural in Detroit as part of CULTURUNNERS, Art Jameel and Edge of Arabia’s evolving cross-cultural journey across the United States.
About Art Jameel’s ongoing Artist Residency Program
Art Jameel’s ongoing Artist Residency Program is a continual project, in partnership with Edge of Arabia, which aims to support artists from the Middle East and North Africa by providing them with platforms in New York City to further develop their practice, share their work with new audiences, and collaborate with locally based artists. Art Jameel collaborates with artist-in-residence programs at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) and Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (EFA).
Art Jameel, one of Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, fosters and promotes contemporary art and creative entrepreneurship across the MENAT region. In partnership with arts organizations worldwide, ART JAMEEL is developing two arts centres and cultural exchange programs to encourage networking and knowledge sharing. ART JAMEEL is the founding partner of Edge of Arabia, The Crossway Foundation, Jeddah Art Week, and The Archive. In partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, it awards the biannual Jameel Prize for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic traditions. Additional projects include: Art Jameel Photography Award; Jeddah Sculpture Museum, a public park established in collaboration with Jeddah Municipality; Art Jameel Olympics, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia; and Art Jameel Program for Traditional Arts and Crafts in Fustat, Egypt, in collaboration with the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. ALJCI was established in 2003 to promote positive social change through the establishment of long-term partnerships with international institutions, and the creation of initiatives in the fields of Job Creation – Bab Rizq Jameel; Global Poverty Alleviation; Arts and Culture – Art Jameel; Education and Training – Education Jameel; and Health and Social – Social Jameel.
For further information, please visit www.aljci.org.