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October 18 2021 6:00 PM ˚

‘Sculpture is an ongoing struggle’

Tamara El Ali uses simplicity to tackle complex issues

Tamara El Ali works on a sculpture in this undated photo. (Photo: Handout from Tamara El Ali)
Tamara El Ali works on a sculpture in this undated photo. (Photo: Handout from Tamara El Ali)
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AMMAN — Sculpting is a three-dimensional visual art that involves carving works out of moldable or hard materials. “I had never heard of sculpting before, but I discovered it when I practiced it for the first time. The concept was that I'd be able to turn a sketch into something that could be touched.” Tamara El Ali, a sculptor, said in an interview with Jordan News.اضافة اعلان


Tamara El Ali works on a sculpture in this undated photo. (Photo: Handout from Tamara El Ali)

She explained her process of work, which involves brainstorming her ideas, then sketching the visuals. “Usually my ideas are not related to each other, as I have more than one reference; first the words, and the visuals, then I choose the suitable idea that I want to represent,” the artist said. “I redo the final sketch to know what the final shape will be.”

Subsequently, Ali explained, she then starts to prototype a sculpture, which is the production of simpler and abstracted models for examining particular elements of the design. “I'm making a prototype to see it in 360°, then I choose the materials and the colors.”

The artist creates sculptures out of different materials such as fiberglass, marble, and ceramics. She added that when it comes to installation she is not limited to a specific type of material, “I love to use fiberglass and marble.” Ali said.


Poke, 2020 by Tamara El Ali. (Photo: Handout from Tamara El Ali)

Ali studied visual art, and “during my studies, I felt that I liked sculpture,” and decided to specialize in it. “Ninety percent of my studies were practical.” Since first participating in group exhibitions in 2017, she has now “participated in eight group exhibitions,” the artist said.

Ali’s practice has changed over time, she explained. “When you start with a handcraft, you start at level one. The way I brainstormed, chose topics, and worked were developing in parallel,” she recalled. “If I sketch a lot, I realize that my sculpting has developed. Similarly, if I sculpt more, I notice that my sketching has improved.”


Wanted Portrait (1), 2019 by Tamara El Ali. (Photo: Handout from Tamara El Ali)

“I passed through different ideas to arrive at simplicity,” the artist said, adding that she finds her inspiration from many sources, including online research but also day-to-day life and her struggles. “I have a different eye, and I see things from different perspectives,” she said, “my process is more playful.”

Furthermore, Ali said that sculpture is an exercise in problem-solving, calling the process “a struggle”. She added that at first, she had trouble even finding a place to work. “Sculpture needs equipment, and physical power, ... and you have to have mental strength at the same time.” she explained. “Sculpture is an ongoing struggle.”


Ruined, 2021 by Tamara El Ali. (Photo: Handout from Tamara El Ali)

Ali explained that all of her pieces are exceptional, either in how they’re sculpted or in their composition, “I like to challenge myself when it comes to my work.” The artist also experiments with different materials and forms in each piece she produces, and incorporates a wide variety of social issues and other topics into her pieces, she said, adding that “most of my works include dark humor, I reflect issues in my artworks in a fun way.”


Masked, 2021 in fiberglass and metal by Tamara El Ali. (Photo: Handout from Tamara El Ali)

Balloons are a common theme in most of Ali’s sculptures, and she works them into her sculptures in different ways. “Balloons are so flexible, and we’re used to seeing them at celebrations and fun places.”  While it’s not possible to put a balloon in a sad place, she explained, she likes incorporating balloons into pieces that reflect tragic social realities, such as suicide, the COVID-19 pandemic, and others. “I express the struggles that people face.”

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