"Faa" is for Funoon (Arts) at Al-Bustan Camp

“With art you created a message anchoring the concepts of Arabism, patriotism, and the reclamation of the stolen part of the Arab homeland,” wrote Sudan’s minister of information, as part of his invitation to Umm Kulthum (Lohman, p. 39). 

Umm Kulthum expressed herself through her music; her songs were a way for her to show her soul to the world.  At Al-Bustan Camp, we explore the idea of portraying a message through our artwork. Art is not only an expression of one’s inner self, but also a portrayal of a perspective, depicting a desired message or meaning. Returning camper Jad mentioned “I like art because it gives me a lot of freedom and there is not one right answer.” 

Teacher Tremain and Counselor Rose
work with camper on print-making

Teaching artist Tremain Smith began the camp by introducing campers to basic art vocabulary in both Arabic and English, such as texture (malmass), contrast (tabayun), and proportion (mikyaas).  She helped campers learn how to convey their own views of Umm Kulthum through various artistic mediums. For example, the younger campers painted what they thought Umm Kulthum would look like if she were their age and their friend. Older campers explored the technique of print-making. They drew self-portraits with marks on sheets of styrofoam, which they then rolled paint over with a roller, then laid a sheet of paper over it and pressed hard to make the imprint on the paper. 

Campers’ drawings of the iconic Umm Kulthum


Traditionally at Al-Bustan Camp, the campers collectively create an Arabic alphabet quilt which consists of an image representing each letter of the alphabet.  This year the words representing each letter relate to the world of Umm Kulthum, such as “baladi” (my country) for letter “Ba”, “hub” (love) for letter “Ha”, and “Jumhoor” (audience) for letter “Jeem.”  

I’ve heard a lot about this quilt tradition and seen what was created in past summers hanging at Al-Bustan’s office and at Manakeesh Cafe, so I can’t wait to see this year’s masterpiece.  It will be displayed at Al-Bustan’s End-of-Camp Performance: July 12, 6-7:30pm. See you there!

Zeanah Rumman-Obeid, Drexel student interning at Al-Bustan
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