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Q&A with Award Winner Ahmed Alkarkhi

"Birds of Play" by Ahmed Alkarkhi

Birds of Play, above, was winner of the Evelyn Turner Award for outstanding abstract work in this month’s “Play” exhibit, in The Art League Gallery through April 2. Juror Judy Bass, who selected the acrylic painting on canvas for the award, praised the painting’s composition and sense of color, as well as the looseness and sense of movement created by the birds.

We asked the artist, Ahmed Alkarkhi — profiled in this 2010 NPR story not long after moving to the U.S. — to tell us a little about the painting.

Ahmed said the painting should appeal to the “thrill of discovery” and stimulate a sense of adventure and imagination, much like fantasy or adventure literature. “Life is an adventure,” he wrote, drawing a comparison to his arrival in the U.S., a place he knew nothing about. Ahmed came here from Syria in 2009 after leaving Baghdad in 2006. His home in Iraq continues to inspire his work, as featured in this YouTube video.

Different media produce different effects, Ahmed said, saying that he tries different raw materials and surfaces depending on what is called for. Ahmed works in acrylic, watercolor, and oil.

Ahmed won the Urquhart Award last year for his painting, DC Kaffee Freedom, in the “Emancipation and Freedom” exhibit.

Our Q&A with this month’s other award winner is here.

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