Artist: Ihab Ali
Exhibition: Eye Witness
Media: Dry wall, property lights, black sheeting
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marilyn Werby Gallery
Website: No Website
For this week’s artist conversation, we got to meet with artist Ihab Ali. Ali is currently an undergraduate at California State University of Long Beach and is working towards his Bachelors of Fine Arts. For the CSULB School of Art, he is in the Ceramics program but what is funny is that in art show that we saw, it consisted of no ceramics. The ideas that his art explores come from his childhood growing up in the Middle East and he uses them to show others what it was like. When asked what his interests are, he said that whenever he has free time, he uses it to keep working on his art and it shows how much dedication he has for what he does.
Ihab Ali’s art show did not consist of the typical art work you would expect. Instead of paintings or statues, he created a maze for the viewers to go through. In his maze, he used dry wall, bullet holes, fake blood, and dark lighting to create an environment that resembled a building in the middle east right after the neighborhood had just been bombed. The first time I went through it I was a little scared because I thought things were going to pop out at me. His use of the dark lighting and the siren going on in the room made the maze really intense and you were not sure what to expect. With the use of all his props and tools, he was able to create an environment that kept you on your toes the whole way.
After speaking to Ihab and going through his maze, it was easy to understand what he was trying to portray. For him, that environment was what most of his childhood looked like while growing up in Syria. He created this maze because he wanted to show all the other people what it was like to live in the Middle East because most of us had never dealt with situations like that before. He was able to create a first person point of view for us and in my experience, it was scary. After going through his maze, it really opened my eyes to how lucky we have it living in America where we do not have to deal with that kind of violence.
Overall, I really liked Ihab Ali’s art show and for me, I think it was the most creative one I have seen so far this semester. I thought it was really cool how instead of using paintings or sculptures to portray his message, he created an environment that the viewers could walk through and see and hear what it was like to live in the Middle East. Being raised in California, I have never had to deal with those kinds of situations and had only seen terrorism on the news or in movies. So being able to go through a first person point of view experience was both scary and cool for me at the same time. With the space that Ali was given, he was able to use his way of art to create a great representation of the life in the Middle East and made it really easy for the viewers to understand what he was trying to portray.