The path to the heart and soul of any country is through its art. With VAWAA Online sessions, let master artists be your guides.
As the world’s greatest cultural ambassadors, artists hold the keys to the wisdom, innovation, and traditions of their home countries. When this transfer of knowledge takes place, we unlock a deeper understanding of a country’s culture and identity. This is the idea behind the travel company Vacation With An Artist. VAWAA curates and offers mini apprenticeships with 90+ master artists and makers from around the world, connecting those wishing to share their crafts and traditions with lifelong learners everywhere.
Inspiring Future Generations
For Hamza, a VAWAA artist and multidisciplinary craftsman from Fes, Morocco, passing down crafts knowledge is a family culture. He is a geometer, brass smith, bookbinder, papermaker, paper-marbler, Andalusian Oud musician, and founder of a Moroccan arts studio who hails from a multigenerational family of artisans. As his father’s apprentice, he’s learned everything he knows from him and the other masters he trained with in fifteen different countries. Hamza’s traditional art revolves around the compass and ruler. With these two instruments, he draws and traces Moorish and Islamic geometric patterns, etches and engraves them on brass and copper trays, and embosses them on leather book covers.
Connecting Through Culture
Passionate, patient, and a natural teacher, Hamza’s mission is carrying on his family’s artistic legacy. Through the help of VAWAA, he is helping people around the world connect with traditional Moroccan crafts. The past several months in lockdown have been an invigorating period of creative experimentation, exploring ways to adapt his in-person VAWAA to an online setting. Since April he’s offered VAWAA Online sessions in bookbinding, teaching both long stitch and African braid stitch techniques, as well as geometric patterns. The latter has especially tickled creative spirits and grown a bit of a cult following!
Tracing the Geometric Lines of Morocco
With Hamza as our guide, a compass, ruler, and colored pencils allow us to draw intricate patterns and paths to the world of a sacred artform. The magic of Morocco is undeniable – Hamza transports us, showing and describing the different designs of Islamic and Jewish art found in many of the country’s traditional buildings, mosques, and synagogues. The shapes and patterns themselves have so much history; we learn their Arabic names and explore the families of Moroccan geometry. Hamza explains the typical color palette but encourages us to play and experiment: “A new tradition begins by someone breaking the tradition.”
Art as a Tool for Self-Reflection and Transformation
Getting such intimate, interactive access to a master artist across the world has been a transformative experience for many. For some it’s rekindled their love of geometry; for others it’s reinforced their love of learning new cultures. For one woman and her 84-year-old mother, it was an opportunity to explore a new art form and its traditions together. Crafting and learning with our hands enriches our minds and perspectives. VAWAA experiences unite us as a community, connected by our curiosity across time zones and continents. Through Online sessions, we can dedicate more time to learning and keeping our creativity alive. We hope you join us sometime.
Dates for upcoming VAWAA Online sessions in November and December will be announced soon. Sign up for updates at www.vawaa.com/subscribe and be the first to know. Single sessions start at $30, or dive deeper with multi-session series.
by Carla Ballecer, VAWAA