Children of the Oasis

March 14 - June 21, 2015

“Human freedom never has as much meaning and value as when it allows the creative power of the child to come into action. All children are endowed with a creative power which includes an astonishing variety of potentialities. This power is necessary for the child to build up his own existence.”

— Ramses Wissa Wassef, Professor of Art and Architecture
College of Fine Arts, Cairo, Egypt

In this brief statement, the late Ramses Wissa Wassef eloquently summed up what was for him, and still is today, at the heart of his unique experiment in art. The village of Harrania, not far from the ancient pyramids of Giza, for over six decades has been the setting for a tapestry workshop for local village children who had neither formal education nor artistic training.

All weaving at the center is done without the aid of any sketch or design. Even the most complicated pieces, which take many months to complete, flow from impressions of everyday life and are improvised on the loom. Wissa Wassef believed that in spite of all risks, a work of art must be conceived and executed directly in its material. He believed that depending on a design was an indirect method which dissociated and weakened the process of artistic creation.

He observed, “The continuous effort of working directly with the material leads to a constant change in the work of these young artists. The free play of their creative power starts at the mysterious moment when the child seizes instinctively, and in a flash of joy, the idea for the picture that he or she intends to weave.”

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

This exhibit is a production of the Ramses Wissa Wassef Centre, Harrania, Egypt. It appears at BMAC in cooperation with Izdahar, a non-profit organization working to foster understanding between America and the Middle East and North Africa through artistic exchange.


Photo Gallery