Greetings! Well, it has been over a month since I returned with my family from my Art Inspiration & Research Trip to Southern Spain & Morocco. And what can I say? It was even more magnificent and grand an adventure than expected. Every day was rich and full in so many inexplicable ways that I almost can’t write about it. Words are so inadequate. I am processing it and will be doing so for quite a long while. Since being home to begin, I have been painting and working with a Star of David pattern in blue found at the Lazama Synagogue in Marrakech.
All of my planning really paid off. I hired 4 excellent private guides in Fez and Marrakech, a different guide a day, each of whom was a scholar, linguist, and historian. In walking each city/medina we learned so very much about the history, culture, customs, religion, language, symbolism, architecture, food, markets, and many illuminating stories. In Seville and Granada we took 2 group tours also with top notch guides at The Alcazar and The Alhambra. These were also rich in detail, context, and aesthetics. Then we went back to The Alhambra a second day on our own pacing to take in and linger in The Nasrid Palaces. Here’s what I wrote with the photos I posted on my Facebook page on April 4th:
“The magnificence of The Alhambra and its Nasrid Palaces cannot be overstated. And can’t be truly captured on camera. What the visual and spatial language of the decorative walls and the spatial layering of frames within infinite frames does as you move through the space is expansive, alive, infinite. I kept thinking of raindrops on water, radiating pulsating energy, simultaneous multiplicity of forms and rhythms. And the infinite framing of views, realms upon other realms. There’s more meaning to decode (light and shade, divine light, sacred geometry, interlace, stars and flowers, etc.)…here are some pictures instead.”
Another highlight was hiring master calligrapher Charkaoui Mohamed at Cafe Clock in Fez for a private Arabic calligraphy workshop. Again, so much about history, language, poetry, mathematics, mysticism/religion, materials and techniques were packed into that experience. Every day I took hundreds of photos everywhere we went documenting aesthetic experiences and drinking in the meanings, spaces, symbols in the streets and in the courtyards, riads, madrases, and gardens. A favorite theme was all the variations of doors in Morocco. Not just doors, but doors as portals, all with multiplicity of formal variations of hamsas and protections against the evil eye. These could be from relatively simple diamond ironworks to elaborate door knockers (interlaced or as hands) to the number 5 to the ornamental ironwork on the doors that also have protective, good luck functions. Most often you would find all of these. The stark contrast between the outside and inside (exterior to interior) is quite culturally significant, therefore giving great meaning to the portal between.
The last highlight for now was our 3 day journey through the changing terrain of the Moroccan landscape (also exquisite) in order to have one awe inspiring once in a lifetime overnight stay in the Sahara Desert. Yes, it was with a sunset camel ride, a walk up and run down a steep 100 meter dune, dancing and drumming and dining with the Berbers in carpeted sand and tents. More magnificence. Beyond words.
I couldn’t be more grateful for and inspired by this expansive Art Research Project & Trip. I am currently sorting through the photos that I find most immediately useful in the studio. And unwinding experiences into new work in as yet unknown ways. Thank you most sincerely to those who encouraged me to dream and play big – to create this project on my own when applying through an Art Foundation for a Travel Grant didn’t come through. To those who helped me find my agency and power and resources to make this particular dream come true. On to my next endeavors. Until then, I wish for you to fulfill your own dreams and share your unique light. The world really needs it.
PS. There are so many more experiences than what I wrote here. Perhaps I will get to share with you in person someday. Here are some links/resources. Feel free to contact me for more.
Be Riad Marrakech
Kam Kam Dunes
Le Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech
Le Musee des Confluences, Marrakech
Dar Attajalli, Fez
Cafe Clock, Fez
La Casa del Flamenco, Seville