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Tunisian street artist el Seed comes to Harvard

Event Report

April 11, 2012

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Middle East Initiative


From the Harvard Gazette. Thursday, April 5, 2012. By Matthew McClellan.

Tunisian artist eL Seed took his spray paints out into the cold last week to create an example of “calligraffiti” in the Science Center’s plaza. The canvas featured the eponymous Arabic phrase in stylized black and gray whorls over a field of purples.

The French-born artist completed the work, which he called “Taking Back the Purple,” in five hours.

“For those of us who are nonartists, it is a really amazing thing to go from a blank canvas to a descriptive and deep collage of thought and color,” said Paul Beran, director of the Outreach Center at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES).

EL Seed describes his work as occupying a middle ground between classical Arabic calligraphy and action painting. He first used calligraphy to help connect with his own Arab identity. Failing to find a teacher, eL Seed studied on his own. His lack of formal education in calligraphy, coupled with the intuitive, reflexive movements encouraged by spray painting, led him toward a freer approach to shape and color. Keep reading (and watch video).


Additional coverage in The Harvard Crimson, Thursday, April 2, 2012. By Jihyun Ro.


Images from the event.


eL Seed's visit was co-sponsored by the Middle East Initiative, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, and the Outreach Center at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard.


For Academic Citation:

"Tunisian street artist el Seed comes to Harvard." April 11, 2012.

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We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.