If you no longer have a family, make your own with clay" takes its title from a Sudanese proverb that states a person made of clay is better than the flesh and blood that hurt you. Depicting those who have wronged you in this way can be a cathartic process, purging oneself of old grudges and allowing in forgiveness. Having rid himself of his own traitors, Umar developed the project into workshops where participants are invited to create their own figures of frustration. Hundreds of these clay statuettes were made through out the years and across many countries Join us.
Name: Ahmed Umar
Country of origin and where do you live now: Sudan, Norway
Profession: Visual artist
What is art?
The process of communicating the essence of something. My tool that offers me the opportunity to speak my heart openly.
Describe your personality
I’m curious, sensitive, sarcastic, shy, can be either talkative or not talkative. Stubborn.
How did you get your start with art?
I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I sought the possibility to achieve that in education. I was granted a master’s degree in Art and Crafts in 2016
Where do you gather inspiration?
I am blessed with a sharp memory and strong well to share. My inspiration is evoked by my daily life in between the two contradicting cultures I belong to.
What Gets You Out of Bed In The Morning?
Being a night human with excellence, I can admit that it’s very hard to get me out of bed in the morning. But when I wake up, I think of curating a day that creates a future positive memory.
Tell us about a moment in your career that really meant something to you?
Receiving Scheibler Award for Art and Craft in 2018. I didn’t know about the award before I was won it.
What two questions would you ask to get the most information about who a person truly is?
I don’t have an answer, honestly.
Do you have a mission with your art?
My mission at the beginning was to self-heal and be able to speak openly about what I go through and experience(d). When my platform became larger I came to realize that I can inspire and have an influence on others, a positive one.
What is the process like for you when creating?
Thinking, thinking, thinking, excitement, creating, insecurity, continue creating until I’m satisfied.
What is the future for art in your opinion?
Art will always prove our survival and existence. Although I expect interference of new materials and technology, I still hope the quality of communicating will remain a priority.
What was your childhood dream job?
A visual artist actually, I knew it.
What was the first thing you ever created and how do you feel about it now?
I drew a lot from a very young age. My drawings were my trusted friends that I imagined.
How was your exposure to art growing up?
Very limited, when it comes to art showcased in institutions. Before I moved to Europe, I have only seen the National historic museum of Sudan, the only museum in Khartoum. In the other hand, art was everywhere. In people’s bodies, houses, traditions and imaginary in the classic Arabic literature.
Do you have any art in your house now?
Yeah, I have a collection of craft objects that is owned by my family. They conserve my ties to my family and makes my apartment to a home.
Who were your early influences?
My teacher, family and my timidity or the lack of tools to communicate with other kids.
Do you have a secret project?
Indeed I have few secret projects.
What artist and their works never tire you?
Ibrahim AlSalahi. One of the Sudanese masters.
What harsh truths do you prefer to ignore?
That the world is full of dangerous humans.
Where is the line between art and not art to you?
If it does not move you to attentiveness then it is something else but art.
What should be the goal of humanity?
Community, togetherness and harmony. Live, let live for both nature and humans.
Does art hurt society in any way?
Although it’s not an absolute no, but no. I’m highly concerned when art is motivated by discrimination, divisiveness or racism.
What do you contribute back to society?
I think I have managed to open the debate about sexual rights in Sudan, for example.
What is the most important goal every person should have?
If any person “should” have a goal, then I’d say: to reach happiness and fulfillment.
How replaceable are you?
No one can take my place, but many can sit before, with or behind me.
How do you define consciousness?
Accepting that we are guests in this planet/life and we should leave a positive trace after us.
Are there limits to human creativity?
It is a limit on itself to think about a limit.
Has social media been positive or negative for our society? Why?
Both! The current Sudanese revolution was born and developed to where it is now online. Plus, I have personally benefited from the social media. I could reach hundreds of thousands with one post, for instance. But it is also an effective time and creativity killer.
What does the fusion of fashion and art mean to you in regard to your work?
My self-representation through fashion is also a media of communicating my identity and pride. It feels like a performance.