About the Exhibition
IMPART is a platform created to celebrate the impact of QAIC’s art and cultural programs in our local and international communities. These programs strive to elicit inclusion through expression and increase intercultural awareness to promote and connect innovators.
Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC) was pleased to present an exhibition of our inaugural IMPART Artists Grant awardees from September – December 2022. The mixed media works on display were by Josh Berer, Nia Alexander Campbell and Patricia Daher. They were supported by QAIC’s IMPART Artist Grant, an annual prize that supports the artistic ventures and incubation of three emerging and mid-career artists’ projects.
Artists on Display
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. In university he studied Arabic language and moved to Yemen in 2007 were he immersed himself in an in-depth 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.
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 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.
Nia Alexander Campbell
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.
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.
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 and 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. She then took on a different path as a Visual Artist who produced 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.
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.