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The Water-Carrier Died

Presented by Vanderbilt University Department of Art at E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center, Nashville TN

Jun 13 2022
Aug 30 2022
The Water-Carrier Died

Exhibition poster designed by Qais Assali

The Department of Art at Vanderbilt University and the Space 204 Gallery present the summer exhibition The Water-Carrier Died – a group exhibition of Tennessee Middle Eastern artists in the Nashville and surrounding community. The exhibition will be on view from June 13 to August 30, 2022.

Curated by Qais Assali, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Digital Design, The Water-Carrier Died brings together the works of three Middle Eastern artist from local Nashville and surrounding area community. Mohsen Ramsis, Keria Nashed, and Bassam Habib’s will display photography, video, drawings, and graphic design.

The Artists

Mohsen Ramsis is a Coptic visual artist, graphic designer, calligrapher and photographer. He has worked as a designer for the Yellow Pages in Egypt for many years. He documented and archived the history of Coptic Nashville through digital and analog photography for church laying of the foundations and land blessings. Ramsis holds a bachelor of fine arts from Helwan University in Egypt.

Ramsis’ 10 small photographs of an illustration project (1993) visualizing the novel The Water-Carrier Died (El-Saqqa Mat) by Ysuf al-Sibai. The novel is set in 1921 Cairo where a friendship develops between the water-carrier and a mortician despite their contradictory world-views. One spends his days remembering this late wife and mourning her loss while the other pursues worldly pleasures believing that death will end all enjoyment.

Keria Nashed (she/her, kuh-ray-uh nah-shed) is a visual journalist born to and raised by Coptic Egyptian immigrants in Nashville, Tennessee. A senior at Western Kentucky University studying Photojournalism and Political Science, Keria tells and immortalizes stories from her community believing these deserve to be told. Stories are within everyone and she hopes to be the one to help tell them.

Nashed presents a selection of 15 photographs from a larger project, Rabbena Mawgoud (God Exists), through the El Mahaba Center and their Map of Coptic Nashville. The selections represents Coptic Egyptians showing how gentrification has impacted the beliefs of a new start and the currently changing Nashville city. Nashed’s photographs focus on the details of these changes and using them as a reminder of where the community cam from and where they will go moving forward. These changes alludes to a story Father Daniel Ebrahim and the changes he experiences in his life journey through the Coptic Church.

Bassam Habib ponders “What does it mean to function as a group in a changing environment?” and “How can we organize ourselves intentionally to combat the embedded isolation of late capitalism?” He works at the Nashville Public Library as the coordinator of the Be Well program and is the co-organizer of the Nashville Free Store, a mutual aid project focused on wealth redistribution and community wellness and accountability. He is a board member of El Mahaba Center.

Habib’s Living in Another World (‘Ayesh bi-‘Alam Tany)/Dream Suite is installation composing of found footage video art and a selection of drawings. Living in Another World focuses on remembering and slowing down. It ponders the questions “What can we remember and what do we forget? How do we name and categorize what we can barely observe? Where are we going so fast? and How do we remember that slow is efficient, effective, and beautiful?” Habib edits together footage shot by his brother as he explores Egypt through their childhood home and the city – combining these with shots from Nashville, were he currently lives and works. The video is paired with a selection of drawings from the artist’s sketchbook.

The Curator

The Water-Carrier Died exhibition is curated by Qais Assali, Qais Assali, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Digital Design at Vanderbilt University Department of Art.

Qais Assali is an interdisciplinary artist/designer born in Palestine in 1987 and raised in the UAE before returning to Palestine in 2000. Assali taught in visual communication at Al-Ummah University College, Jerusalem, and at An-Najah National University, Nablus. He is Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Digital Design at Vanderbilt University. He was a 2019-21 Core Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He was a 2018-19 Artist/Designer-in-Residence and a Visiting Assistant Professor for the Critical Race Studies Program at Michigan State University.

Assali’s work has been exhibited at Hauser & Wirth, NY (2021); Middle East Institute, Washington D.C. (2021); Station Museum of Contemporary Art, TX (2021); Stamps Gallery, University of Michigan, MI (2021); Toronto Queer Film Festival, Canada (2021); SculptureCenter, NY (2020); Chicago Cultural Center, IL (2020), Glassell School of Arts, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX (2020); Temporary Art Center (TAC), Netherlands (2019); and Qalandiya International, Palestine (2018). Assali is the recipient of 2021 Art Matters Foundation grant; 2020 Chicago Artists Coalition Spark Grant; 2020 Houston Arts Alliance Digital Grant; 2020 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts – Idea Fund; 2016 SAIC New Artists’ Society Award; and 2016 Palest’In & Out Festival – Plastic Art Prize.

Assali holds four degrees in visual arts from Palestine and the US, a BFA in Graphic Design from An-Najah National University 2009, and a BA in Contemporary Visual Art from the International Academy of Art Palestine 2017. He simultaneously completed an MFA from Bard College, NY 2019, and an MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL 2018.

Vanderbilt, Arts, and the Middle East: Building Bridges to the Global and the Local

The Water-Carrier Died exhibition will coincided with additional component events/programs during the exhibition run. These events will be announced separately on the Vanderbilt University Department of Art website and its social media accounts Facebook and Instagram.

Space 204 exhibitions for the 2022 calendar year will focus on Middle Eastern themes and issues.  Artists from different disciplines will demonstrate a variety of approaches to visual representation, performance, and graphic design.  The exhibitions that compose the program will be complemented by academic round table discussions which will take place within the didactic visual environments that they establish. Space 204’s goal is to raise awareness of the Middle East and connect the university with Middle Eastern communities in the larger Nashville population to enhance and promote the university’s community engagement.

To see the full program for the full 2022 calendar year, visit the the program page at

Source: Submitted


FREE Admission


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Additional time info:

The Water-Carrier Died exhibition will coincided with additional component events/programs during the exhibition run. These events will be announced separately on the Vanderbilt University Department of Art website and its social media accounts Facebook and Instagram.

* Event durations (if noted) are approximate. Please check with the presenting organization or venue to confirm start times and duration.


E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center

1204 25th Avenue South, Room 204, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37240
(Neighborhood: West End)


Street parking can be found along Garland Avenue (between the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center and Olin Hall) and along 24th Avenue South by the Veterans Affairs Hospital.




    • Wheelchair Access

Health Check Update

The Event Organizer is requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to attend this event.: No

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