SAN LUIS OBISPO – For its flagship show of the year, the Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery at Cuesta College presents a Retrospective exhibition by Syrian-American artist and architect Mohamad Hafez from Oct. 24 through Dec. 20. 

Born in Damascus, Hafez was raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and educated in the midwestern United States. His art reflects the political turmoil in the Middle East through the compilation of found objects, paint, and scrap metal. Using architectural skills, he creates surrealistic Middle Eastern streetscapes that are architectural in appearance and politically charged in content.

Hafez’s work reflects his deep interest in the cross-disciplinary exploration of street art and realistic, yet ironic sculptures. He purposefully infuses a stark contrast between the scenes he creates and the messages imbued in his work. Messages could include verses from the holy Qur’an, audio recordings from his homeland, or other elements of Islamic heritage reflected in the architectural typography.

“It’s our biggest show of the year,” said Cuesta College Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery Coordinator Emma Saperstein. “It is a huge honor for the gallery to host Hafez’s very first retrospective in his career. The show will span over 20 years of his work and practice.”

Hafez’s artwork was recently featured in several highly acclaimed exhibitions. He is profiled in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and National Public Radio. Hafez is the recipient of the 2018 Connecticut Arts Hero Award for his extensive and continuous body of work on issues such as the Syrian civil war, the worldwide refugee crisis, and an overall desire to counter hate speech.

Retrospective marks the first time Hafez’s artwork will be seen on the Central Coast. The opening reception is on Oct. 24 from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. with an artist talk at 5:30 p.m. in the Experimental Theater at the Harold J. Miossi Cultural and Performing Arts Center. A sneak peek reception for students is at noon in the art gallery. A Syrian film screening and talk-back with Hafez will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 5 – 7 p.m. in Room 6304.

The Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery is in Room 7170 on Cuesta College’s San Luis Obispo campus. Visit the gallery webpage or call (805) 546-3202 for a full schedule of exhibits and hours of operation.