Originally from Chicago, my dream was to live in New York. I was obsessed with its vibrancy, energy and creativity.
Artists in Conversation:
In 1998, while visiting the countryside in The Netherlands, a friend pointed out that-counter to the laws of gravity-the water canals surrounding the fields on which we stood were actually flowing up a very slight incline. These waterways are, in fact, part of an old artificial hydraulic system of drainage and containment that has kept Holland above sea level.
With absolute conviction I believe and practice Ad Reinhardt's thesis put forth in "Extreme Routine."
In spite of what seems to be an acceptance of diversity as a cultural and social fact of life, both in and outside of the art world, black artists are, for the most part, still largely consigned to a narrow conceptual space in which to operate.
I was born in Iraq on June 10, 1966. Because a member of my family had been accused of disloyalty to my country, I was denied the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming an artist.
I began showing my work in the late 1950s by participating in competitive museum shows and invitationals in college galleries and similar venues. I didn't have a solo gallery show until 1974. I suppose that was due to youthful shyness but it was also due to the scarcity of galleries and to the refusal by gallerists to sign on artists who had not yet compiled an impressive and sustained track record.
When you are working in large scale public sculpture, a support group becomes one of your most useful tools - like a smooth, hot welder or your favorite hammer and chisel. Chicago has had a really strong sculpture community for years, but it's been only since 2004 that we set it in concrete by establishing Chicago Sculpture International (CSI), a satellite organization of the International Sculpture Center (ISC).
A pair of oars slips into the water. My son and I face each other. The lake is at least 20 feet deep, and my heart sinks. Fortunately, the wind was blowing in our favor. It pushed us towards the shore, and yes, not far behind were the oars. We were both relieved.
Before I quit my day job to make a living as a full-time artist, I was the curator of a corporate art collection. Many of the issues I dealt with were the same as those of freelance art consultants. So, while I'm learning new things all the time, I feel like I understand where they're coming from more than I would if I hadn't had a job buying art with other people's money.
As a teacher of photography (who firmly believes in beginning with the black and white darkroom) it has been interesting for me to see the speed at which this medium has evolved in these past few years. Digital technologies have changed some aspects of older two-dimensional art mediums (painting, drawing, printmaking) and have introduced newer media forms into the art world. For some photographers, however, it has totally redefined the input and output of imagery.