NEWINGTON – A unique opportunity to learn about an ancient art form and support a refugee starting her life anew is coming up this November.
The Lucy Robbins Welles Library (LRWL) in Newington will be featuring the works of Afghanistan-born artist Khalida Marefat in a solo exhibition entitled “Nature and Growth” all month long.
Marefat, who escaped the war-torn country with her brother in August and came to Central CT, will be presenting her exhibit in the library’s community room Tuesday, Nov. 15.
She is hoping to build a future with her art, created by the ancient practice of Tazhib, which uses gold to illuminate geometric shapes and patterns representing nature and divinity.
“I want to help people in need by way of my art,” Marefat told the Herald, adding, “I want to improve art in different countries.”
Greater Hartford Quilt Guild President Brenda Auerbach is a new friend and a volunteer with Welcome Home West Hartford, helping Marefat get settled in the area. She’s also a former exhibitor at the LRWL, where staff are excited to feature Marefat’s artwork.
“Our organization is comprised of local congregations,” Auerbach explained. “We have a committee of about 40 people, who raised money to support their first year in the United States. I hope the exhibit at the library will open the door to helping Khalida feel she can do this in the United States and be successful. It’s a first step.”
Gold, or “zahab” in Arabic, is the symbol of light and wisdom in Islamic tradition. Tazhib artists use small brushes or pens to create a wide variety of motifs from crushed gold, gouache, watercolor, and natural pigments, using turquoise as an accent.
Marefat grew up watching her uncle create Tazhib works. She studied for three years at Turquoise Mountain and graduated in 2014. The organization is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 by His Majesty King Charles III. Its mission is to revive historic areas and traditional crafts from the Middle East, providing those displaced by conflict with jobs, skills and a renewed sense of pride. Marefat completed a three-year course of study at the Institute and went on to form her own business, Asman Arts. Hundreds of pieces she created have been featured in galleries and exhibits throughout Afghanistan, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
Library staff are expecting representatives from the Turquoise Institute and the organizations that helped bring Marefat to the U.S. at the upcoming artist exhibition event.
The public is encouraged to attend. Works featured will be for sale and may be purchased and picked up at the end of the showing, in late November or early December.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.