“Touched” by Ebru: Language – Art Interface

Posted on: November 21st, 2018 by sabbadi

With gratitude to generous funding from Modern Languages & Literatures, and kind support of  Professor Susana Cavallo, Department Chairperson, our Arabic program at Loyola University Chicago was honored to welcome well-known Chicago-resident Turkish artist, Sevim Surucu to a special Ebru art workshop with our Arabic students Fall 2018.

Sevim Surucc is an acknowledged Ebru artist (Turkish Paper Marbling) with a Bachelor of Art degree in Landscape Architecture from Istanbul University. In her marbling designs, she utilizes traditional flower forms, contemporary designs, and her own unique creations. Sevim convened multiple demonstrations in Chicago, IL; St. Louis, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Irvine, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Phoenix, AZ; Atlanta, GA; Urbana, IL; Raleigh, NC; Carbondale, IL; and Springfield, IL.

Please enjoy sample photos and excerpts of our Arabic students’ reflections on this unique therapeutic art as part of their Culture Portfolio assignments for Arabic 101 and 103.

“The Ebru experience required an unconventional way of thinking because I had to think in reverse as working on the water results in a mirror image onto the paper; additionally, the experience gave me a different perspective because I could not put exactly what I wanted onto the page, I had to manipulate the ink on the water instead of drawing on a page.” (Matthew, 101)

“The ebru workshop draws similarities with real life, we are all given paint but how we decide to shape it and use the colors determine who we are.” (Mahmood, 101)

“ I honestly did not think I would enjoy the ebru session as much as I did. I had never in my life experienced such a delicate, yet free flowing form of art. I loved the fact that anything which one could perceive as a mistake was easily turned into perhaps some of the most essential parts of my final piece. I also loved how the different colors did not simply blend together to make a new, blurred out color, as normal paint would do. Instead, each color I added coincided with the others and simply added a new element to my piece, making it more detailed and beautiful. I genuinely hope to get the opportunity to take part in creating ebru again in the future. Thanks so much!” (Brian, 101)

“The simplistic elements of this beautiful art form — the water and paint — combined with the complex methods of shaping these elements into memorizing and beautiful designs touched me in so many ways. It is astounding what the most basic of elements can transform into with a little bit of creativity and artistic talent.” (Lynn, 103)

“We are unable to control the many aspects of our own lives, yet one of the beauties of painting is that it gives us a power and control over it, only to hope that it turns out as beautiful as we imagine it.” (Khadija, 101)

“I was surprised how easy it was to make such elaborate and colorful patterns by using the Ebru technique, and my friends who I showed my painting all thought it was really beautiful, and that it must have been very difficult to make.” (Santiago, 103)

“Through the Ebru Art Event, I was able gain knowledge about a unique culture by experiencing a truly fascinating art form.” (Mohammed, S- 101)

“I really loved the experience and was surprised to have never heard of it before, as it offers such an amazing art that anybody can do and that I feel needs to be recognized by more people.” (Jacob, 101)

“Attending the Ebru event made me realize how much work goes into creating Islamic artwork. In the beginning when I heard it was water art I expected it to be very simple but once I saw how many techniques are used I was fascinated. Each artwork was one of a kind because of the various techniques and colors that people chose. The beauty of Ebru art is special because it cannot be captured through printing or any other method.” (Iram, 101)

“Paper marbling, or ebru is a historic form of art hailing from Turkey and Central Asia. Ebru is extremely original with no two paintings exactly the same, in fact this form of art is a very good medium for calligraphy and flowers.”(Mohammad, Q-101)

“Before attending the Ebru art workshop I had never heard of what Ebru art was and it was very fascinating to see it being presented in the manner that it was. It was very interesting to see that there was a certain technique for the process and how the use of certain brushes and colors could be used to create such a unique piece especially in the case of the abstract artwork. I would love to be able to learn more about Ebru art and attend another workshop.”  (Hajera, 101)

“This was my first exposure to Ebru Art, and to see art made through water which is an essential part of life gave it a more significant meaning to me even though the sample art piece I made during the workshop wasn’t perfect but it definitely required concentration and delicacy making the overall experience very therapeutic.” (Nimrah, 101)

“By getting to explore the Ebru art form more, I was able to experiment with more designs and really focus on the present moment and the intentions of what I was doing. In an effort to be more intentional in my actions, I have found an activity that can offer great stress relief during busy times.” (Sydney, 103)

“I had no idea that Ebru was a way of painting before the event. I found it to be a very mind opening experience!” (Malik, 101)

“I’m absolutely terrible at art and it was so liberating to try an art form and actually succeed. Even when I did make mistakes they were easily fixed, I found the experience to be peaceful and beautiful.” (Tricia, 101)

“Ebru is a great intersection of language and art where you can practice Arab calligraphy through the delicacy of painting flowers and patterns on water! (Adriana, 101)

“The workshop on Ebru art was very enlightening and it really illustrated the vibrancy present in Turkish art through the use of bright colors and various techniques that created beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind works of every time they were transferred to paper.” (Nida, 101)

“My Ebru experience was immersive and tranquil; allowing me to engage with fellow classmates and challenge myself to create beautiful, preserved art pieces utilizing the age old technique.” (Nicole, 101)

“I learned that the art of Ebru is a Turkish practice that brings peace and tranquility over the body, allows for self-reflection of the soul, and helps clear the mind of any worries.Thank you so much for giving us such an amazing opportunity.  It was truly beautiful and really de-stressed me!” (Sophia, 101)

“More than anything else, I believe that Ebru for me was reflecting my feelings on to paper rather than it being a work of literature for a class it was still me writing but through water, colors, paper, and that also created a sense of euphoria because it reminded me of a time where I used art as a way to express how I was feeling at a certain point in my life that didn’t necessarily have a start to an end, and I put that on paper, and here that would mean I would try to reflect that same idea or another with the colors.” (Hadia, 101)

“Ebru painting proved to be beautifully difficult and complex, and it offered a window into a Turkish style of art that reflects the rich culture that produces it.” (Bella, 101)

“Although it seemed quite difficult and foreign at first glance, I was pleasantly surprised by just how accessible and fun Ebru art turned out to be!” (Zack, 101)

“Participating in the Ebru art class was very eye opening because I learned that it is a traditional Turkish way of art and that traditional Middle-Eastern art is not limited to geometrical patterns and shapes (as I have most commonly seen). I enjoyed participating in the art making as well because it was a way to relax and connect with my classmates outside of the classroom which are both very valuable to me.” (Tess, 101)

“Ebru art allows one to learn the importance of approaching all aspects of life with a gentleness. Every element of this practice comes from swiftly moving the colors in a wholesome manner that results in opulent, lavish, and dazzling flowers or patterns. shukran ❤”  ( Wardah, 101)

“Ebru art reflects how we ought to be as individuals: tranquil and unique. It teaches us to express our individuality while being open to try new things.” (Arwa, 103)

“I had never heard of or saw Ebru art before so I did not know what to expect. I was blown away by how beautiful the art was, not to mention how easy it was to make something nice of my own. I especially liked how passionate the presenter was, you could tell this art form was very special to her.” (Abbey, 101)

“The Ebru art fascinated me due to the unconventional nature of the art, I never thought you could create such beautiful images in such a strange way. I hope I can do it again someday.” (Reyan, 101)

“Before the Ebru workshop, I had always thought that the differences between the art of various cultures rested in the piece of art itself; I had never considered that the method of producing the art was different.  In this way, there is an art in finding new ways to create an artistic product.” (Ethan, 101)

“I never knew one could paint on water until I attended the Ebru session where I got a glimpse of Turkish art. The instructor elegantly and with ease painted on the water creating intricate patterns and flower designs using various colors of paints. On the other hand, my first attempt at Ebru resulted in an oddly shaped Lily and my second in a patternless pattern. Nevertheless, Ebru was a fun, relaxing experience that I hope to try again.” (Hind, 101)

“Being able to create Ebru art was a relaxing experience and it reminded me that Middle Eastern art is not limited to calligraphy and geometric patterns, like we often assume.” (Zubia, 101)

“I am so thankful that I was able to attend the Ebru art demonstration for a second time! The paintings that we made were beautiful and intricate, and I enjoyed learning about this ancient art form and seeing the variety of work that the artist produced.” (Amy, 103)

“I would like to start this reflection by saying how thankful I am to have had the amazing opportunity to attend the Ebru art workshop. It was extremely interesting to see how cultures can express such beauty simply using paint and water. I learned so much simply by the instructor, such as seeing the grace and passion expressed by her when introducing Ebru to myself and other students. I express a great deal of gratitude to deepen my knowledge about a culture that, up until pursuing the minor, I had little to no knowledge of.” (Adrian, 101)

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