Mohamad Hafez - Syria
Is an interdisciplinary artist and architect born in Syria, raised in Saudi Arabia and educated in the Midwestern United States. A self-taught sculptor, Hafez uses his expertise as a licensed AIA architect as well as his lived experience of Damascus’s rich built environment to create poetic streetscapes high in fidelity and charged in content. His sculptural compilations of paint, metal, and found objects anchor uneasy conversations, stimulating deeper audience engagement on contentious topics like torture and prisoner abuse, child starvation in Africa, or the ongoing global refugee crisis. Hafez studied at Damascus University and Northern Illinois University before earning his B.Arch. at Iowa State University in 2009. Hafez began practicing sculpture shortly after coming to the U.S. in 2003, out of homesickness and nostalgia provoked by prohibitive Bush-era NSEERS travel restrictions. Hafez has exhibited at The Brooklyn Museum, UNICEF House, NYC; Orlando Museum of Art, Florida; Yale Art Gallery, New Haven; and Contemporary Art Platform, Kuwait, among others. He has received national attention in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, AJ+, Global Citizen, and NPR. Hafez is currently full-time with the firm Pickard Chilton and was Project Lead Designer on the 2017 50-story, 1.5 million GSF office tower 609 Main in downtown Houston, TX. Hafez is the recipient of a 2018 Connecticut Arts Hero Award for his extensive and continuous body of work on issues such as the Syrian civil war, the worldwide refugee crisis, and an overall desire to counter hate speech. He serves as a 2018 Yale University Silliman College Fellow.