LAU Fine Arts faculty seek to inspire
LAU’s faculty showcase their multiplicity of ideas at Proventus, this year’s annual Fine Arts exhibit.
“This is Beirute. A Beirute is a traditional Lebanese sandwich in Brazil. It is one of the most desired foods within the Arabic foods category. The traditional Brazilian recipe uses Syrian bread, loads of slices of Rosbife (roast beef), tomatoes, eggs, lettuce and cheese. Oh and mayo. But then everything takes mayo. Mayo is almost like salt, so it’s ok not to add it to the recipe. People will presume its presence, almost spiritually.”
When LAU faculty member and alumna Christine Kettaneh receives this letter and a Beirute sandwich from a friend, it is the beginning of a journey. The sandwich becomes a metaphor for Beirut itself, the pores of the bread inviting mayonnaise to ooze through, just as the spaces between the city’s buildings invite consciousness to enter in. Kettaneh engraves the text of her journey on actual pieces of bread, and the result is most compelling: the words look as if they have been grilled, fading in and out of the bread, as frail and transient as language itself.
Kettaneh’s installation “Beirut with a mayo blessing” is being exhibited as part of Proventus, LAU School of Architecture and Design’s (SArD) annual Fine Arts faculty exhibit. “I think it is important for the students to see the works of the faculty. I believe it is motivating to see their teachers practicing what they teach. I hope I manage to inspire my students the way the LAU faculty has inspired me,” she said.
Fine Arts & Foundation Studies Chairperson Rached Bohsali explained this year’s Latin title, Proventus, meaning issues also encompassed other implications, such as success, fortune, increase, growth and crop. And while the focus of Proventus is the environment, “This theme also embraces personal and collective concerns,” he went on to say.
Greta Naufal, who teaches drawing at LAU Beirut managed to skillfully join personal and collective concerns in her work Stone Nest. For two years she kept watch over a small bird egg that seemed to have been abandoned on her balcony. Once it became clear that the mother was not coming back, Naufal placed the egg inside the groove of a stone. For her, the piece is about what is happening now in Beirut with the destruction of its vegetation and heritage. “In New York City, they find dead birds every morning on the sidewalk, after having hit the skyscrapers,” says Naufal. Stone Nest is her grim prediction that soon Beirut’s birds will have no other choice but to nest in stones.
The question of how to express the political tension we feel in our environment is what drove LAU’s ceramics instructor, Samar Mogharbel, to create her piece — cooking gas canisters made of clay. Under Pressure was inspired from a final scene in one of Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman’s movies. In the scene, the son points to a whistling pressure cooker on the stove and asks his mother, “Don’t you think it’s had enough?”
Dr. Elie Haddad, dean of SArD, expressed his amazement at how so many different interpretations can emerge from one common theme. “Fine Arts represent a kind of salvation in the face of an increasingly commercial and globalized world. It is an invitation to look at things differently; to accept multitudes, to accept diversity. It’s a message of tolerance.”
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