visual design, strategy, & experiments
abjad cover.png

Abjad Sculptures

art, installation, sculpture, woodworking
Abjad Sculptures, Christo & Jeanne-Claude Award Winner 2014

Abjad Sculptures, Christo & Jeanne-Claude Award Winner 2014

Based on my abjad alphabet project, I proposed a series of five wooden sculptures to be installed in various locations around the UAE. My proposal won funding from the Christo & Jeanne-Claude Award, and over two months I built the series of oversized letterforms. The show ran from March to August 2014.

DSC_8466.JPG
Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.41.57 PM.png
b4ea6b12076085.562652a8801bb.JPG
From Zaki Nusseibeh, Award Juror

From Zaki Nusseibeh, Award Juror

“This year’s winner is undoubtedly and unreservedly an artwork that merits the highest consideration and responds perfectly to the award’s criteria. Conceived as a bridge between alphabets, worlds, and the realms of the visible and invisible, Abjad is an artwork that compels a novel narrative to unfold before a quizzical spectator. Conceived for the cosmopolitan village that today’s world community, and certainly the UAE forms an integral part thereof, could readily react to and understand, it evokes a sculpture that is both a universal language and vision.”

DSC_0167.JPG
Review show catalog @

Review show catalog @

 Abjad is a series of wooden sculptures based on shapes created from research into how the Arabic and Roman alphabets developed through time. Each letter tells the story of a single sound, one phoneme’s visual representation starting as a pictogram, evolving into Phoenician, and splitting into modern Arabic and Roman letters through Etruscan, Aramaic, and Nabatean. The letters of Abjad are artistic timelines that reveal the common root between two superficially disparate languages. The scale and physical engagement with these forms as sculptures demand the viewer to see the familiar as foreign and the foreign as familiar.

Abjad is a series of wooden sculptures based on shapes created from research into how the Arabic and Roman alphabets developed through time. Each letter tells the story of a single sound, one phoneme’s visual representation starting as a pictogram, evolving into Phoenician, and splitting into modern Arabic and Roman letters through Etruscan, Aramaic, and Nabatean. The letters of Abjad are artistic timelines that reveal the common root between two superficially disparate languages. The scale and physical engagement with these forms as sculptures demand the viewer to see the familiar as foreign and the foreign as familiar.

IMG_1344.JPG
 I want every viewer to undergo a process of discovery through this work, and to be challenged to rethink their own linguistic divisions and assumptions.

I want every viewer to undergo a process of discovery through this work, and to be challenged to rethink their own linguistic divisions and assumptions.

DSC01979.jpg
B405721D-A3AE-411A-BEC9-43AFD43BF9C7.JPG
Screen+Shot+2013-10-30+at+7.26.42+AM.png.jpg
0cd3a615328705.56299fcf54126.jpg
EP-140409260.jpg
cq5dam.web.564.9999 (2).jpeg
IMG_1347.JPG
41F9DE78-8829-4E4F-B4E1-B238DA65B292.JPG
 As a scientist and an artist, I am constantly learning, and all my art comes out of exploration: of a tool, of a question, of a history, or in this case, of my own linguistics. I was raised on the stark shapes of the Roman alphabet, growing up in the United States, and written Arabic always seemed tantalizingly incomprehensible. When I moved to the UAE to study, the language started to untangle itself. I learned to read right to left and no longer saw Arabic as an exotic puzzle: it was simply another way of communicating. Abjad is a response to myself before living here, to those who see either language as hopelessly foreign, and to those who live in bilingual worlds and want to find out what’s at the bottom of it.

As a scientist and an artist, I am constantly learning, and all my art comes out of exploration: of a tool, of a question, of a history, or in this case, of my own linguistics. I was raised on the stark shapes of the Roman alphabet, growing up in the United States, and written Arabic always seemed tantalizingly incomprehensible. When I moved to the UAE to study, the language started to untangle itself. I learned to read right to left and no longer saw Arabic as an exotic puzzle: it was simply another way of communicating. Abjad is a response to myself before living here, to those who see either language as hopelessly foreign, and to those who live in bilingual worlds and want to find out what’s at the bottom of it.

IMG_5975.jpg
DSCN5347.JPG
10177277_612426412183885_2392137533640679302_n.jpg