Memories of Home

A project space at VCUArts Qatar by Rasha Alkasab, a marketing communication professional at the University, puts the focus on family bonds and the concept of home. The exhibition also attempts to offer a prelude to social-activist-cum-artist Mohammed Hafez’s works which will be shown in January 2022 at the Gallery at VCUArts Qatar.

VCUarts Qatar offers valuable opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and connects the University and its students to the influential art and design world of the Middle East and beyond. One of the Project Spaces at VCUarts Qatar is currently occupied by an exhibition that is close to Rasha Alkasab’s heart. Titled: My Grandfather’s journey, Rasha Alkasab, who works as the Marketing Communications Specialist at the VCUarts Qatar, puts the focus on the man who identified or represented her concept of “home”.

Deeply personal, yet profoundly methodical, the space recounts the life and journey of the person who has influenced Alkasab. The exhibition explores the connections that we form and the deeply entwined impressions that the concept of home brings to the fore. This is also a prelude to an exhibition that will soon be coming to VCUArts in January which further explores the concept of home and the homesickness and hopelessness felt by those who live away from their homeland and yet are severely affected by what is happening in their homeland.

A Syrian-American artist and architect, Mohamad Hafez who was born in Damascus, raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and educated in the Midwestern United States, expresses the juxtaposition of East and West within him as his art reflects the political turmoil in the Middle East. His art forms which can be called social activism will be shown to the public at the Gallery of the VCUArts Qatar from January 12 to February 19, 2022.

In the current project space, Alkasab describes the focus of her project, “Home to some maybe the place they were born, or the country they lived or grew up in. I identify “home” by the people that make up a house or a home. The people we love are the ones that make us relate to the concept of home. I lived in far too many places to have a single place that I could call home, but my home and what shaped me as me are those people I love.”

“My grandfather always meant home to me. He has been around the world as the Public Relations and Communication Director at the Damascus Municipality. His house was everywhere that his spirit went, and that was reflected in the stories he told me. I was his first (and favourite) granddaughter, and I distinctly remember him going out of his way to entertain me by making shadow puppets with his hands,” remembers Alkasab.

Alkasab describes her grandfather, Nizar Darwish Alajlani, as a man of pride and faith, who loved people. “In 2018, when he passed away, more than half of Damascus attended his funeral, remembering his friendly and giving nature. He lives in me, and his wisdom and words will always guide me.”

Nizar. According to Alkasab served as the Public Relations and Communication Director at the Damascus Municipality for 59 years (1948 – 2007) and led many projects locally and internationally, such as the afforestation of the Kasayoun Mountain, which until this day remains one of the most visited sites in Damascus by tourists outside the old city. The building of many parks and recreations centers across the city from Al Muhajreen to Mashru Dimar (New Damascus).

With images, all neatly organised, Alkasab tells the story of her grandfather and revives memories as she pays her respect to her grandfather.

The exhibition is on for viewing till mid-January 2022 at the Project Space of VCUArts Qatar.

All Images Courtesy VCUARTS Qatar.