Grade 12 IB Visual Art students were in for a treat when a field trip to the Ayman Baalbaki exhibit at the Saleh Barakat Gallery turned into a surprise visit with the artist himself.
“We did not know the artist was going to be present and had planned to meet with the gallerist to view the artwork,” said IB Visual Art instructor Cailin O’Connor. “Instead, students were able to ask Baalbaki directly about his technique, meaning, and cultural context. It was thrilling to meet an artist of this magnitude,” she added.
Ayman Baalbaki is an acclaimed Lebanese artist who has reached worldwide fame for his large-scale portraits of fighters. He was born the year the Lebanese Civil War broke out, a period of time in Lebanon’s history that influences much of his work. His art has been exhibited in galleries across the globe in London, Paris, Istanbul, Dubai, Italy, Egypt, and beyond.
Students in the class enjoyed the opportunity to gain insight into the artist’s process. “I gained knowledge on the harms and affects of the civil war in Lebanon on the community and country as a whole,” said grade 12 student Mariam Charara. For student Ghalia Al Kabbani, seeing Baalbaki’s pieces up close introduced her to new techniques, exclaiming “I learned a new method of creating artwork using both acrylic paint and collage layers.”
The experience re-affirmed for Ms. O’Connor the value of taking students outside the classroom. “Outside experiences offer incredible possibilities, as seen by this magical day.”