Nicole Letendre ’23
On September 10th, Arts Transcending Borders, hosted by Cristi Rinklin, the Visual Arts Chair at Holy Cross, had the pleasure of welcoming artist Kevin Mourad for a live-streamed open studio. Mourad is an accomplished artist born in Syria, carries a Masters in Fine Arts, and has taught at Brandeis, Harvard, and even our own Holy Cross. Mourad’s works are self-described as “space that I invented,” largely black and white acrylic paint-based scenes of architecture that layer on top of each other in a dream-like way. His latest creations have been done on fabric, yet he has spent significant time on painting the cutouts for his animations. Having a passion for music (according to kevorkmourad.com, “He is the only visual artist member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble”), Mourad has integrated music into his artistic animations. He identified three major means of creating his animations: 1) He creates an image, such as a figure, and uses his phone to take a picture, then slightly changes the position of the image over a green screen, repeating multiple times until the image has the appearance of movement, such as flying! 2) The second method he uses is painting an image on specialized paper, taking a picture, wiping away the image, and painting it in a different position, so it too creates the look of movement. 3) Lastly, he uses time lapse to do animations by recording the surface as he develops the painting in the moment. With his animation work, he often collaborates with composers to implement music with the drawings. During the open studio, viewers were able to watch an animation video featuring light piano music as the camera zoomed into the scene of a boy playing a piano in a tower.
During the open studio, Mourad displayed and discussed several of his works, including a scene featuring black and white architecture painted on cutouts and layered on one another, connected by ropes. Mourad plays with 3D artwork, describing to viewers that “each layer is a different slice of time.” He elaborates that the building represent ancestors, with the farthest architecture being the oldest ancestors who have formed the groundwork for the frontward buildings. While the ropes serve a functional purpose of stability, he also mentioned their symbolic purpose—connecting cultures and memory. While much of the architecture in his works are fictional, Mourad explains “the art objects are very true,” as he illustrates specific objects found in museums.
Ultimately, Mourad’s open studio was a wonderful journey into his artistic process, as evidenced by the many fascinated students sending in questions by the end of the session. Mourad’s work harkens to not only imaginary places, but also the shadows of memory, in a mesmerizing way. He constantly works to create pieces that are interactive and thoroughly engaging with his audience. As he puts it, “It’s important to create an environment where we inspire others,” and that’s just what he does.