Fellows’ Exhibition: Rehab El Sadek
Opening:  Friday, April 19, 2024 from 5 to 8 PM

On View: April 19-29, 2024
Hudson D. Walker Gallery

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Americ أمريكانة is, at its heart, an immigrant autobiography about surviving the American dream. This narrative—which is my own personal story—will be told using sculptures created from repurposed antique books displayed in various manners throughout the exhibition space. Some will be wall hung salon-style while others piled in corners, a gesture reminiscent of the beautiful, ramshackle chaos of the Soor Al Azbakeya book sellers’ market in Cairo.

Conceptual Approach:

An important part of my practice involves salvaging books from dumpsters and recycling bins and giving them a second life as art. The metaphor here, if we choose to believe in such things, operates on multiple levels. One reference being the ancient Egyptian concept of the afterlife, burial chambers filled with personal objects imbued with deep meaning. Another, more personal interpretation the show will invite is an allusion to the immigrant experience—that is, building a new life on top of our past and the history of those who came before. I also endeavor to engage in sustainable, zero-waste production practices through creative reuse.


While rooted in my own past, Americ أمريكانة will invite visitors to create their own meaning in what they see. Such is the inherent nature of both literature and visual art. Some of the books in the exhibition reference existing novels, design concepts, and political theories and could serve as a springboard for healthy discussion. Although these books are inhabited by our collective past and the memories of previous owners, it will be up to the visitor to establish their own narrative.

Please note: The gallery is available to visit from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Please visit the administrative offices to be shown to the gallery.

About the Artist

Photo: Colin Conces

Rehab El Sadek is a US-based Egyptian artist whose work utilizes sculpture, light, shadow, and memory to investigate the layered reality of the immigrant experience. Using repurposed and incorporeal materials, she creates alternative spaces that invite viewers to contemplate the role of the individual—especially marginalized individuals—in society and the built environment. Placemaking can be a poetic act and a tool to build community. These are the core ideals of her art practice. El Sadek has received numerous honors including a 2023 Pollock–Krasner Grant, the 2022 Project Row Houses Southern Survey Biennial Prize, a 2021 Gottlieb Foundation Individual Grant, a 2021 Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant, a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, and a Sharjah Biennial Installation Prize, 1999. She also held a one–year appointment as the City of Austin’s first Artist–in–Residence, 2017, embedded in the City’s Watershed Protection Department investigating social and environmental issues. In 2009, El Sadek was one of 88 female artists included in REBELLE: Art and Feminism 1969-2009 – an extensive forty–year survey of feminist artwork at Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, Netherlands. Selected residencies include MacDowell Fellowship, 2020; Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts, 2022; MacColl Center, 2021; Vermont–Studio Center; Gasworks Studios–London; and Art Omi.


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