It’s incredible what you can create with just a compass, ruler, and colored pencils. Over five weeks, 21 participants from around the world participated in a 5-session series with VAWAA artist and multidisciplinary craftsman Hamza. Specially curated to dive deeper into the art of Moroccan geometry, we learned about the different designs of Islamic and Jewish art found in many of Morocco's traditional buildings, mosques and synagogues.
With each two-hour session we worked our way towards grander, more intricate patterns, from creating a 10-fold rosette — a Zellij pattern found in Hamza's house — to constructing hidden square grids for a tessellation of the 8-fold pattern, known as the Seal of Solomon. It was fascinating to learn the Arabic and English names of each pattern and the stories behind the process. Hamza also treated us to a special 10-minute performance of Moroccan Andalusian oud at the close of every session.
105 exquisite patterns and countless circles and lines later, everyone came away with a deeper appreciation for this sacred art form. The series ended with an Online Exhibition celebrating participants’ hard work and creativity. It was a wonderful opportunity for the VAWAA community to meet Hamza and his students as they took turns sharing their art, highlights, and personal reflections.
For some, past and planned trips to the region were what initially drew them to the sessions. Despite having to cancel her upcoming 50th birthday trip to Morocco, Maya from Berkeley found new excitement in exploring the country’s art and culture with Hamza as her guide. Clara, a Brazilian living in Miami, shared that her fascination with the tilework in Andalucia was the reason she joined the class. Purva’s journey to the world of Moroccan geometry also started in Andalucia – she was grateful to Hamza for being an amazing teacher and “literally making us feel like we’re in your home.”
Many also found the hands-on crafting and drawing to be very satisfying, even meditative. For Luis from Johannesburg, the coloring was quite therapeutic. Steve, a theatrical designer, professor, and travel agent from San Jose, enjoyed exploring color so much that he photocopied his patterns and experimented with different color studies. Physicist Emanuela, also from Johannesburg, loved that the sessions brought her passions for technical drawing and Arabic culture together.
The experience also brought families closer in unexpected ways. Anuja from Brooklyn spoke about how sharing her enthusiasm for the class with her parents made her realize that she and her dad shared a love of geometry. For Marja and her 84-year-old mother Lylas in Detroit, the series was an opportunity to learn and create together as a team. Srujana decided to pick up a compass and ruler after first seeing her husband try Hamza’s master class. Now her studio walls are covered in patterns of her own, and she’s ready for round two! What an amazing way to bond with loved ones over art and creativity.
For those interested in diving into the world of Moroccan geometric patterns – and those eager to dive even deeper! –Hamza will be leading a 5-session advanced series beginning July 26th. Keep scrolling for more patterns and reviews and to watch the full Online Exhibition.
Srujana Akkiraju, Candy Alipio, Peter Brake, Emanuela Carleschi, Clara da Costa Limeira, Luis de Sousa, Pancham Gajjar, Anuja Joshi, Tania Kamensky, Steve Mannshardt, Alexandra Marizy, Purva Merchant, Marja Mogk, Maya Sen.
"I love to learn about other cultures, and to do so by ‘doing’ is far richer and more fun. This course provided a wonderful learning and exploring experience. Hamza is a brilliant teacher, he is a delightful character, very good at breaking down complex tasks, extremely patient, and very encouraging. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in Morocco, art, geometry or being creative." - Peter from Tasmania, Australia
"Excellent, Excellent, Excellent! Hamza is a wonderful--and very patient--teacher, who guided students to learn and successfully create designs we thought impossible to master. I especially appreciated all the work that Hamza did outside of the class, creating videos to guide students through homework assignments and creating challenges for us to be able take the designs to the next level on our own each week." - Nicole from Princeton, USA
"Being able to participate in the Moroccan Geometric Patterns workshop with Hamza was educational and inspiring. Not only was his teaching wonderful but getting to hear him play the oud was a treat every week. My classmates were also inspiring and I hope to take more classes with Hamza in the future... perhaps one day in Morocco." - Tania from New York, USA.