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Sherin Guirguis - Projects - Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Image courtesy of Sherin Guirguis Studios; photo credit: Panic Studio LA

During the summer of 2020 at the height of Covid-19 lockdown, Sherin Guirguis was invited to join a group of women and femme artists, poets, writers, and activists. Led by artist Amitis Motevalli, they read aloud a translation of The Conference of the Birds, the epic poem by 13th-century Sufi practitioner Farid ud-Din Attar. The works in this gallery are the result of Guirguis’ socially inspired study of the past, brought about by a contemporary crisis.

This shared reading—a simple act of care and community—became a powerful experience that shifted Guirguis’ artistic practice. Abstracted sketches of centuries-old Egyptian borg hamaam (pigeon towers) she made during these virtual gatherings became images of femme bodies inspired by activists in the group, as well as by mythological birds from the region, specifically Egypt and North Africa. Additionally, Guirguis says, “I began connecting Attar’s narrative of seeking strength in community with mythologies of sacred and magical birds of ancient Egypt and the femmes in my community that had gathered to support each other.”

Guirguis’ exhibition A’aru // Field of Reeds (A’aru refers to the ancient Egyptian afterlife) considers the complexities of human relationships, shared trauma and healing, and the building of futures in community. The artist uses mixed media including ink, gouache, and watercolor on layers of hand-cut and stretched paper to invoke creatures, structures, and communities that are both fantastic and tangible. 

“The idea [from author bell hooks] that ‘love is an action,’ and an action one performs in communion with others, is moving and inspirational to me,” says Guirguis. “I find that I have come to think of my art practice in those terms.”

About the artist:

Using site, text, and recovered histories as the core of each series, Guirguis develops projects that engage audiences in a dialogue about power, agency, and social transformation. Her research-based practice aims to amplify the often-invisible work of historically underrecognized women, engaging both formal and social concerns by juxtaposing the reductive Western language of minimalist aesthetics with that of Eastern ornamentation. 

Born in Luxor, Egypt, and currently living in Los Angeles, CA, Sherin Guirguis received her BA from the College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, and her MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has been exhibited and collected internationally, and she was an Artist in Residence at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design in March 2023. 

View Honolulu Museum of Art

View Shangri La Museum

Selected Works

Image courtesy of Sherin Guirguis Studios; photo credit: Panic Studio LA

Image courtesy of Sherin Guirguis Studios; photo credit: Panic Studio LA

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