Creating "Paintings of Hope"

  • Post Date: 07/27/2023
  • Author: Oriya Falk, student writer
  • Reading Time: 4 minute read

This past spring semester students had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Syrian- Armenian artist, Kevork Mourad. I attended the workshop, curious to learn from and observe a professional artist at work. Unsure what exactly to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the accessibility and ingenuity of the process Mourad uses to create complex, meaningful work.


Mourad began the workshop by guiding the group to the Leavitt Gallery of Middle Eastern Cultures where his piece, "A World Through Windows,” is on permanent exhibit. He explained the meaning of the piece and that we would be using the same process to create a similar work of art.

Once we returned to the workshop space, Mourad revealed his preferred art making materials– bedsheets, hotel keycards, plastic forks, and clear, flexible sheets of plastic. With a quick explanation, the art making process began and we got to work applying black paint onto the plastic sheets, using the hotel cards to make sharp, yet fluid designs. Afterward, Mourad would press the plastic sheet onto the cotton fabric– a technique called monotype printmaking. With about fifteen people working on this, we soon filled the fabric with abstract designs.

Mourad hung the fabric on the wall and began to transform the miscellaneous prints into a cohesive image. Holding both a small bottle of ink and a hotel keycard in one hand Mourad deftly applied ink and spread it with the keycard to create lines, patterns, and shadows. Before our eyes, a city of abstract architecture was molded from the basic shapes of our printed designs.

The finished piece from the workshop, "Paintings of Hope,” is now on display at Spurlock through August 24, 2023 in the Whitten Featured Object Case on the second floor.


Reflecting on the experience, Art Education student Victoria Grullon appreciated the opportunity to do this workshop. “Working alongside professional artists as an undergrad adds another layer of learning. As artists we all face a certain level of doubt and being exposed to various visiting artists’ practices gives me a confidence boost about the work I want to create.” The artmaking techniques Mourad presented at the workshop also proved to be especially memorable, “His unique printmaking method was incredibly approachable and didn’t require a whole lot of set up. As an art educator, setting up with ease is very important to me. I also enjoyed that Mourad encouraged the use of everyday objects; this kind of flexibility makes the project extremely accessible.”

Looking back on my own experience of the workshop, I feel personally inspired by the use of upcycled objects in Mourad’s artmaking process. In my own art practice, I try to utilize reused objects and materials, when possible, to focus on the sustainability of the artwork. Mourad’s process not only provided specific techniques I could try out in the future, but also served as a valuable example of a professional artist that is making museum quality art from unconventional and reused materials. Within the workshop experience itself, I found that gathering a group of students who may or may not know each other and sitting down to make art together provided a unique opportunity for connection and conversation. This workshop was an opportunity to both learn more about art making and to have meaningful interactions with other students, deepening a sense of campus community.