VISUAL ARTS, ZINE, GRAPHIC MEMOIR
WORK IN PROGRESS // 2021 - ONGOING
Consultant/ Mentor: Jenny Lin
> Supported by:
Montréal, Arts Interculturels (MAI), Conseil des Arts de Montréal (CAM), Canada Council for the Arts
> Exhibitions & Events:
Montréal, Arts Interculturels: Season 2023 - 2024 Programming
Family Portraits is my first attempt at a graphic memoir. It was born out of Creatrix, a dance and theatre performance, where my mother and I share stories about our upbringing. My mom tells me about her ancestors - whom I’ve never met - and I archive her tales.
In the winter of 2021 I began to document those anecdotes in a playful practice that combines words with drawing. I started painting portraits of my family members as a way to grow closer to them and I wrote my memories of them in a child-like voice that echoes my happy childhood. Every Monday, I would email a completed page of Family Portraits to a group of close family and friends. I created 20 pages by the end of the winter, which made up the first volume.
I feel closely connected to those who are no longer here. I am moved by an urge to savour the disappearing. To save them from fading out of life, after their death. Perhaps it is because one of my fears is to be set aside and deemed irrelevant, not once I’m dead, but while I’m still here.
It is not because I miss them that I celebrate them, but because I want their company. I want them to guide me... to speak to me through the world of images, words, colors, and lines. There is always a trace - how clearly I want to reveal it is a choice. And I choose to reveal their traces in real and imagined ways.
After a hiatus I took up the practice again in the winter of 2023 and completed a second volume. Family Portraits will be self-published as a zine and the portraits will be exhibited alongside our performance of Creatrix. The project is a dedication to the ones who passed, and the ones who still play.
If you are receiving this then you are on my list of people I like to share myself with. Following the footsteps of Maria Popova (Brain Pickings), I have chosen a list of close ones to share what I call ‘Family Portraits’; scribbles of image and text that are not entirely limited to family... or portraits.
You'll receive a weekly email every Monday. I don't expect a reply so do not feel pressured to react; this is merely an exercise for me to create, to share, to expose layers of myself, and to make Mondays more exciting.
That said, I welcome any sort of feedback with open eyes, heart and toes.
Mona El Husseini is a dancer and visual artist, based between Montreal and Cairo. She completed her dance education at the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center (CCDC) in Egypt and studied International Business and Contemporary Dance at Concordia University.
Mona choreographs and performs her own artistic projects, she collaborates with other artists as a choreographer and performer, and she also teaches contemporary dance, barre, and pilates. Her pieces have been performed in Egypt, Germany, Italy, and Canada.
At the time of writing, Mona is working on Creatrix, a dance duet with her mother, and on Family Portraits, a visual art series and a graphic memoir set to premiere at the MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels) in 2023. She is also developing Monday or Tuesday, a dance solo, and Rabbet Manzel // House Goddess, a visual art series - both of which were presented at upRising Up festival in Puglia, Italy, in 2022.
In 2018, Mona had a performing role in When Arabs Danced, a TIFF- and FIFA-featured documentary film by Jawad Rhalib, and in 2022, she was the lead actress in ‘Gigi’ and in ‘Mango’, two short films by director Randa Ali. That same year she choreographed ‘Mama,’ a theatre piece by Nathalie Doummar, which was presented at Théâtre Duceppe and at Festival Juste Pour Rire in Montreal.
Mona is the current recipient of the Conseil des Arts de Montréal (CAM) + Montréal, Arts Interculturels (MAI) Alliance joint support program.
In her artistic process, Mona goes beyond dance and traces the thread that connects the different art forms she practices including martial arts, visual arts, and writing. She is interested in how stories are transmitted, shared, and told through the body across generations. She finds the dance in the encounter between the intimate and the collective, the traditional and the contemporary, and in the space where the inner and outer meet.