Every spring, Art-A-Whirl cracks open Minneapolis’ arts district for curious, self-guided browsing of “the largest open-studio tour in the country.” How big is it? More than 70 locations and over 1,200 participating artists, galleries, and businesses show off northeast Minneapolis’ bohemian character. This is the 28th year of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association’s sprawl. Check it out May 19-21 (and consult the online map for guidance).
Today, we’re featuring another new Art-A-Whirl artist to visit this weekend: Faisal Alahmad. (Yesterday, we spotlighted screenprinting artist Victoria Eidelsztein. Previously, we featured jewelry designer Lina Adjogble and candlemaker Emma Remer.)
Alahmad is a sculptor from Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia, whose process involves modeling with clay before making a rubber mold and casting with plaster, resin, or bronze—although he has also dabbled in metal arts and stone carving, plus has skills as an illustrator.
Alahmad moved to the United States shortly after graduating from high school. He lived in Virginia, North Carolina, and California before moving to Minneapolis. “I moved here from Oakland with my partner at the time during the summer of 2020, right after the killing of George Floyd,” he recalls. “We had been laid off from our jobs because of COVID and needed a more affordable place to live. So, we decided to come back to Minneapolis, where we both had family to support until we got back on our feet.” He began participating in Art-A-Whirl in 2021.
Where to find Faisal Alahmad during Art-A-Whirl: The Casket Arts building, in studio #317 (681 17th Ave. NE, Minneapolis)
1. What makes you excited about art, making and/or viewing it? There is a distinct thrill whenever I start a new art project because I am able to materialize my ideas into physical form. No matter if the ideas have already been done before, as nobody can replicate what I see in my mind’s eye.
2. Is there a theme, feeling, or quality that you pursue in your work that you can recognize in all or most of your pieces? Persistence, determination, escapism, and a little bit of taboo realism.
3. Can you explain the inspiration behind one of your pieces? A piece I’m proud of is called “Medusa’s Complex,” which is a life-size bronze bust of a woman whose face is twisted in snarls of anger. To complement her intense expression, her ponytail is seen shifting into an emerald boa constrictor snake. The concept is based on the look that an authority figure, such as a parent, can give a child that would cause paralysis and fear.
4. What is inspiring you right now? I’m inspired by the challenge to create artwork that expresses complex human emotions, as I’m intrigued by the subtleties of mixed emotions.