Creative Fusion: Sculptor hopes organic forms will build bridges between cultures / Abdullah Qamer / Karachi, Pakistan / The Sculpture Center

sculpture-center-hagan-qamer headshot

The work Pakistani sculptor Abdullah Qamer plans to create during his residency at the Sculpture Center deals with broad, sweeping questions, he says, about progress, and how it is defined and achieved. Using reclaimed materials, he welds and casts large metal pieces to create concave and convex forms, with the effect of turning something hard and unyielding into something that seems natural, light, and flowing. His process employs the Hegelian Dialectic, which begins with a thesis, attempts to discover its antithesis, and hopes to arrive at a synthesis of the two.

Sounds like big stuff, but the 35-year-old artist from Karachi is actually interested in exploring all of this at the cellular level. “The inspiration for the form of the sculpture is the biological development in a living body with respect to time,” he explains. He wants to give his work “a feel of something biological, alive,” and “aims to show historical evolution symbolically through these organic forms.” He hopes to reanimate the static materials by allowing them to grow and move as he assembles and forms the works from its elemental parts.

Imbuing inanimate objects with life and meaning is the function of sculpture, but Qamer’s approach of reclamation, recycling, and rebirth seems particularly suited to the Sculpture Center. It is situated along RTA’s HealthLine, which connects University Hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic, and an emerging partner for the center—the nearby Free Clinic. The center hopes that Qamer, the fourth artist it has hosted in the Creative Fusion program, will be a part of its plans to begin offering art classes and workshops to the Free Clinic’s clients. And Qamer, who leads an organization that conducts art therapy workshops, street exhibits, and theater with street kids in Karachi, has expressed an interest in working with young people in Cleveland. He will have studio space at the opposite end of the HealthLine—the sculpture department of Cleveland State University, where he will work with associate professor Irina Koukhanova, another sculptor who works with metal.

Qamer also wants to use the residency as opportunity to correct what he sees as a media bias toward Pakistan, a country of 199 million people.

“I would like to interact with people by showing them that the real face of my people is peaceful and hospitable,” he says. “Besides that, I am eager to learn about different societies and their lifestyles, and imbibe the experience of living in a different culture.”