ADNAN CHARARA: LETTERS HOME
May 4–July 19, 2008
Adnan Charara: Letters Home, submitted image (detail).
Born in Lebanon and raised in Sierra Leone, Adnan Charara moved to the United States at the age of nineteen to study architecture. Now living in Michigan and self-taught in art, he draws on his life as an Arab American to tell the story of the immigrant experience through playful visual narratives.
Working in ink and watercolor on vintage paper envelopes, Charara develops colorful worlds inhabited by busy characters who scurry around stamped and postmarked cityscapes. He uses the well-worn letter as a metaphor for the hope that drives immigrants to travel long distances under harsh conditions for opportunities in their new homelands. He shares his stories about complex social issues with a lighthearted yet thoughtful tone.
Charara expresses his affinity for discarded tools through sculptures made from bent hammers, old protractors, rulers, brushes, and palette knives—all former tools of tradesmen. He alters and adds to the tools to create new characters that lovingly illustrate the determination, anxiety, adaptability, and hopefulness of the immigrant experience.