Museum for Art in Wood's Mashrabiya Project features international artists

BySteph Walton WPVI logo
Sunday, March 19, 2023
Museum for Art in Wood's Mashrabiya Project features diverse artists
Museum for Art in Wood has a new exhibition that showcases work from international artists and visitors a chance to try woodworking.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The former Center for Art in Wood is now the Museum for Art in Wood and has a new exhibit on display for March.

"The overall mission of the Museum for Art in Wood is to share the amazing creativity that comes from artists and their engagement with the material of wood," says Jennifer-Navva Milliken, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Museum for Art in Wood.

You'll want to carve out some time for the museum's Mashrabiya Project, which includes an exhibition titled, "Seeing Through Space."

Six artists contributed pieces to the multidisciplinary exhibition. Milliken says the artists' work is in response to "the concepts behind the Mashrabiya."

The Mashrabiya itself is an architectural element that is often made of wood.

"It's an ancient form of passive cooling," says Milliken.

She says these structures were "installed in windows of stone or mud houses."

It provides ventilation and privacy and can be decorative.

"It's also been used to genderize space," says Milliken.

All the artists chosen for the project identify as women with roots in Morocco, Tunisia, Gaza, Palestine, Egypt and Pakistan.

Artist Hoda Tawakol says her two works explore both the gaze and control.

"It's made out of trellises, which are used in gardens, and also give the plants a direction. And they control the plants to grow in a certain way," says Tawakol.

She says she finds Mashrabiyas interesting because the female body is at the core of her work, "and the Mashrabiya is a way of hiding the female body."

The work, Charred Gold, is by Anila Quayyum Agha, a multidisciplinary artist originally from Pakistan.

She says building the piece was "very labor intensive," since it took about nine to twelve months to complete.

"And that also represents women's role in domestic labor," says Agha.

There is a gathering space within the exhibition, called the l'iwan. Public events such as discussions and performances will be held there throughout the run of the exhibition.

You can explore with a smartphone or get hands-on at a Mashrabiya woodshop within the museum.

Anyone is welcome to walk into the museum and turn a wooden piece that will be inserted into the community-made Mashrabiya.

"We have a lot going on here," says Milliken.

The Mashrabiya Project runs through July 23. Admission to the Museum for Art in Wood is free, though donations are always welcome.

Museum for Art in Wood | The Mashrabiya Project

141 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106