I twisted my first balloon animal 35 years ago and sold my first twisted sculpture a few years later. One thing that’s never gotten old is to exploring new places and working with new people. Our most recent trip was to Doha, Qatar where we were part of the opening of a brand new mall, Doha Festival City.
I led a team of twelve artists from around the world in installing five pieces to celebrate the different offerings of DHFC.
Shopping Trip, a piece consisting of purses and shoes obviously represented the thing malls all over the world are best known for: shopping. Clearly a purse this size is only good for a really big shopping trip. And I can’t even imagine the woman wearing a seven-foot heal.
Mighty Falcon, a traditional symbol of the country of Qatar stood proudly at one of the malls busier entrances. A special thanks to Guido Verhoef for being an Airigami guest designer on this piece. I’ve known Guido for almost 17 years. We’ve run into each other at events around the world and have often talked about current and future projects, but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to actually work together. I look forward to doing it again.
Angry Birds Melee was designed as a precursor to the Angry Birds theme park that will be opening soon inside the mall. Thanks to Michael Abrahamson and Brian Asman for their exhaustive work on these birds.
Snow Much Fun was, in fact, so much fun for us, as we felt we could bring something from home to the Middle East that they had never seen. Despite leaving for Doha in April, it was actually snowing in Rochester on our departure. Bringing a snowball or two would have been fun, if not for the TSA restriction on carrying liquids on board (and I suppose the unlikelihood that a snowball would have lasted the whole trip). To our surprise, the temperature was the same when we got there as it was at home. It was an incredible 30 degrees in both places. And on return, two weeks later, it was up to 40 degrees in each. (Of course, that was Fahrenheit at home and Celsius in Qatar.)
In Pursuit, our ferocious T-rex was a huge hit among the visitors.
It wasn’t all work while we were in Qatar. We did take one day off during our ten days in the mall to explore a little. My favorite part of traveling internationally is having the opportunity to experience different cultures. While chatting with people as we worked certainly taught us a little, we’re artists, and being able to spend time in the Museum of Islamic Art was a highlight for me. A few hours in the museum wasn’t nearly enough to really take in everything I wanted to see. We’ll have to go back on our next visit to the country.
Of course, more time in the museum would have prevented me from experiencing some of the other things a visit to a desert country had to offer.
My thanks go out to a really fantastic crew. The full team is shown below, next to Shopping Trip.
Top left: Todd Neufeld, Guido Verhoef, Suzanne Haring, Brian Asman, Melissa Vinson, Michael Abrahamson, Mike McIntire, Lisa McIntire
Bottom left: Drew Ripley, Guillermo Lantaron, Larry Moss, Laurie Straus