In the English-speaking world, atelier is sort of a fantastic term - making people think of that perfect intersection of craft and fine art. For example, Birchbox gave me this really great perfume sample called, romantically, Atelier Cologne. If you Google the word, all sorts of rustic restaurants, simple-chic clothing lines, live music dens, and existential creative spaces pop up. I find myself trying to casually drop the word into conversation, so that I appear to be a great mix of awesome and cultured.
Yesterday, we went to visit an actual, no frills, atelier. A tiny space in the middle of this gigantic, crumbing city just for art - Atelier Aicha.
|Image from Wikipedia.|
Aicha teaches after school art in Johan's classroom. He's been asking us to come visit for ages. But we had trouble scheduling a time. He said that the weekdays were off-limits because "that's when I am working and...it get's crazy." However, we have gotten adept at haggling and agreed on a Tuesday during Spring Break. Elias came along. So did Matt. It was a party. An atelier party.
The cement walls of this space - probably about 6 feet by 4 feet - were covered in calculations and words and faces. Plus a little Bob Marley. Canvases lined the floors. A small television was covered in books. A fresh poster of Pope Francis hung next to a glow-in-the-dark crucifix.
|You can see the Pope peeking through.|
I asked Aicha what his neighbors thought about him. While we were there, a mom chased her baby who chased a rooster through the dirt, all three narrowly avoiding the paintings Aicha had put out for us to see.
They didn't seem to be perturbed by the huge, somewhat ominous faces gazing out at us, or the many nipples carved into his wood figures.
|Don't touch the....!|
Aicha said that they think he is an artist, sometimes a magician. Maybe he is.