I am an Egyptian emerging artist, who was born into the Coptic diaspora in the North East region of the U.S. Through my life experiences and travels, I have developed a feminist perspective that embraces the Arab, African, and Indigenous intersections that shape my voice. My artwork comes from the desire to aesthetically affirm and interpret both my own political and personal experiences and those of the diaspora communities to whom I belong. I see this as a way to challenge dominant political narratives of the War on Terror through the power of art and storytelling.
To this end, I work both in the studio and with community. My practice centers the voices of women. Most recently, I have been working with Arab women immigrants and refugees from Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine, well as female U.S. military veterans to compile a collective archive that will form the basis of an installation. Through English classes at a community center in Bay Ridge and one-on-one meetings, I have been gathering women’s written responses to the following line of poetry by Nayyirah Waheed: “There have been so many times/ I have seen a man wanting to weep/ but/ instead/ beat his heart until it was unconscious.” The quote has been a way to gently open up stories of war, migration, immigration, heartbreak, and survival central to the women’s lives- yet rarely spoken about.
The written texts will form the fabric for a tent-like alternate monument, “The Khayamiya monument,” to be exhibited at a veterans’ 9/11 memorial in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, as well as in local community spaces. It is intended as a piece to open up critical reflection on mainstream war narratives, through the sensual and personal rather than the polemical.
The roots of this installation work, which has come to involve text, are found in my ongoing figurative work. I make densely layered small and large scale figures formed by collaging together drawn and painted images. In these works, the fragmented body becomes a landscape and a psycho-scape embedded with lush organic patterns, predatory soldiers, debris, and camouflage. Torn paper is layered and reconstituted to form the figures themselves and their appendages. The figures sometimes take on a fantastic otherworldly character, affirming and celebrating the transformational shape-shifting that occurs in surviving and thriving. These figures come together in exhibition spaces through the intentional placement of thread, wall drawings, and sculptural elements, which unite them in a loose visual narrative. My aesthetic packs in marks, colors, and textures. I draw visual inspiration from the experiences that impress me most: ancient Egyptian temples covered from floor to ceiling with reliefs and carvings to present-day downtown Cairo souks crammed with cheap and fine goods of every color and material.
Whether through figurative or nonfigurative forms, the work uses dense layering of torn fabric, paper, threads, patterns, and- more recently- handwritten texts actively created in specific communities to express the unfolding of historical trauma, as it is connected to transformation in the present. Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhran writes:
.. Toukhy’s work excavates the silty sedimentation of societal suppression, and renders, increasingly, difficultly, painfully, and eventually transformatively and celebratorily, more transparent the learning and unlearning of multiple structural, interpersonal, and internalized oppressions. Beauty is increasingly found in what is healed, the wound, the still stumbling survivor moving towards dance. We witness shrapnel and betrayal, the effects of militarization, violence, the ways we are pitted against each other. And the ways we repurpose weapons into art, make medicine from the poisons offered us.
People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, Undoing Racism intensive course 2014 The Laundromat Project Create Change Fellowship
Massachusetts College of Art, Painting, B.F.A with Honors
Boston College, B.A. Philosophy and Psychology, Phi Beta Kappa
Shehrezade’s gift, The Center for Book Arts, NY, NY
Two-person show: And still she grows flowers in her flesh. New work by Alexandria Smith and Katherine Toukhy Five Myles, Brooklyn, NY
The Art of Herstory, Skylight Gallery and Welancora Gallery, Brooklyn, NY Creative Dissent, Alwan for the Arts, NY, NY
Solo: This story has no end, HERE Arts Center, Soho, NY
Living Museum, collaboration with Floor Groetenhuis for Queens Art Intervention
Shehrezade’s gift, Local Project, Queens, NY
The tea talks: a collective archive, part of DIWAN conference at Arab American National Musuem, Dearborn, MI
You broke the ocean in half,Bay Ridge SAW, public art installation, Brooklyn, NY
Paperworks Unbound, Williamsburg Art and Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY Solo: Artificial Romance, a mixed media installation, Five Myles Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Prologue-Epilogue The Gateway Project, Newark, NJ Open Doors Festival Harlem Rooted: a collaboration with Laundromat Project fellows and Harlem community organizers, Brotherhood Sister Soul, NY
Are we Already Gone? Flickerlab Studios, NY, NY
Alwan for the Arts Benefit Auction, Shirin Gallery, NY NY Bay Ridge SAW, public art installation on 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY Todo Bajo Control, Villa Victoria, Boston, MA
Curate NYC, official selection by guest curator Mahnaz Fancy, NY, NY AccessArt, Brooklyn Arts Council Benefit Auction, Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
FOKUS and the New Collage: Insight Love Affairs Release Party, The Delancey, NY, NY
DIWAN 5: A Forum for the Arts, Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, MI
WAH Sweet Sixteen Gala and Exhibit, Williamsburg Art and Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY
WAH Spring Fling, Williamsburg Art and Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY Mujeres: Modern perspectives, Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, Boston, MA
Drawing Show, Greenpoint Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
International Women’s Day Film Festival, Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, MA
Videonorte, Videosur, toured in galleries and alternative spaces in Argentina, Brazil, Boston, & NY
Women’s Independent International Film Festival, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, MI
20th Annual New Jersey Small Works Show, Mikhail Zakin Gallery, NJ 2008 Change: To Make the Form, Nature, or Content, Future Course of
Something Different, Washington Street Art Center, Boston, MA
Escupido de la Panza de la Bestia, Spirit of the Belly of the Beast, various public and gallery spaces, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Between Image and Reality, guest for “Diwan: A Forum for the Arts,” Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, MI
Inscribed, The Present Tense, Forte Point Studios, Boston, MA
WCA Annual Exhibition, Bunker Hill College Art Gallery, Roxbury, MA
Performing Culture: Film and Video Works, Mass Art Film Society, Boston, MA
Inscribed: A Video Installation and Performance, in collaboration with Rashin Fahandej, Mass Art, Boston, MA
The Laundromat Project, commissioned artist for the Khayamiya Monument Brooklyn Arts Council grants for the Khayamiya Monument
Art Matters, grant nomination
Brooklyn Arts Council grants for RASMI
Paperworks Unbound Award: selection for 8 most distinguished works, Claire Gilman, curator of The Drawing Center
Puffin Foundation and Brooklyn Arts Council grants for RASMI: an arts workshop for Arab or Muslim youth in Brooklyn
Fiscal sponsorship through Brooklyn Arts Council
Curator Mahnaz Fancy’s list of top 30 works for Curate NYC
Brooklyn Arts Council Community Arts grant for RASMI: an arts workshop for Arab and Muslim youth in Brooklyn
Brooklyn Arts Council Local Arts Support grant for RASMI
Emerging Artist Purchase Award, WAH Society, Williamsburg, NY
Foundation Book Award, Painting Department, Mass College of Art
RESIDENCIES & FELLOWSHIPS
Vermont Studio Center with partial scholarship (declined due to financial need)
Selected participant in Jeanne van Heeswijc’s Public Faculty no. 9 at Queens Museum, NY
The Laundromat Project Create Change fellowship with partial scholarship
Women’s Studio Workshop Residency Grant, (declined due to scheduling conflict) New Jersey
“Ro Garrido and Katherine Toukhy, Creative Conversation,” The Laundromat Project (blog), November 13, 2014. http://laundromatproject.org/ro-garrido- katherine-toukhy/
“Review of ‘Retropical: Superstitions of the Other, Anabel Vazquez at Yellow Peril Gallery’,” Contemporary Other, Issue #1, 2015.
“Environmental Justice from Local to Global,” The Laundromat Project (blog), September 11, 2014. http://laundromatproject.org/environmental-justice-from- local-to-global/
“Review of ‘A Bomb with a Ribbon Around It, South Asian Women’s Collective at Queens Museum’,” Jadaliyya, Jan 16, 2014. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/16038/a-bomb-with-ribbon-around-it
“Free Association: DESTROY::” with Marwa Helal, collaborative review of a performance by Leyya Tawil, FEN magazine. http://fenmag.tumblr.com/post/63734001348/free-association-destroy
Upcoming: Jaishri Abichandani, “Review of ‘Shehrezade’s gift’ and dialog among the artists,” Arts Asia Pacific, winter 2016.
Hamptons Art Hub, exhibition announcement with photograph for “And still she grows flowers in her flesh,” July, 2016.
Alli, Chanel, “Crown Heights’ FiveMyles Gallery Offers Dynamic Summer Exhibition,” BKReader, July 7, 2016.
McCallister, Jared, “CARIBBEAT: ‘The Art of Herstory’ exhibition in Brooklyn reflects issues from female artists of African Diaspora,” NY Daily News, April 3, 2016.
Artbeat, exhibition announcement with photo for “This story has no end” at Here Arts Center, 2016.
Nii, Yuko, “The 10 AWARD Recipients of ‘Over the Edge: Paperworks Unbound’ show,” Awardee announcement with photograph, 2015.
Baldwin-Cohen, James, “A Plethora of Paper! A Review of ‘Over the Edge: Paperworks Unbound’,” Jan 2, 2015. http://wahcenter.net/2015/01/a-review-of- over-the-edge-paperworks-unbound-by-james-baldwin-cohen/
Brian (unknown last name), “On the Right Side of the Line: SAW Bringing Public Art to Bay Ridge,” Heyridge (blog), May 19, 2015. http://www.heyridge.com/2015/05/on-the-right-side-of-the-line-saw-bringing- public-art-to-bay-ridge/
D’Agostino, Paul, “8 Brooklyn Art Shows That Were Aces in 2014,” The L Magazine, December 17, 2014.
The DJ List, exhibition announcement for Alwan for the Arts Auction 2014, June 16, 2014.
Edwards, Atiba, editor, “Love affairs issue,” Insight, a Focus Publication, 2013. https://issuu.com/insightmagazine/docs/insight33
Edwards, Atiba, editor, “Bitter/Sweet issue,” Insight, a Focus Publication, November, 2013.
Oweis, Fayeq, editor, “Encyclopedia of Arab American Artists,” Greenwood Press, 2008.
RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE
Commissioned artist, “Icononclasts: Arab American Women Cross the New Frontier,” at the DIWAN conference, Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, MI
Creator and Director, RASMI: an arts workshop for Arab and Muslim youth in Brooklyn
(ongoing) Teaching artist at Urban Arts Partnership, NYC public schools
Curriculum writer and Teacher, “A video workshop for teens using Iraqi poetry, hip hop, and storytelling,” Al Bustan, Philadelphia, PA
Curriculum writer and Co-teacher, “Voices Beyond Walls: Making youth videos in Palestine & teaching with them in the U.S,” West Bank and Northeastern U.S.
Selected panelist at “Diwan: A Forum for the Arts,” Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, MI
Private collection of Enayat Morgan, Cairo, Egypt
Private collection of Darryl Hollan, Brooklyn, NY
Yuko Nii Permanent Collection, Williamsburg Art and Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY