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A woman poses at the steps of a museum.

As a Smithsonian Artisan in Residence, Sarah Al Hosani led demonstrations and workshops at the National Museum of Asian Art.

Photo by Beth Ferraro

  • Sarah Al Hosani Shapes Emirati Ceramics and Community
    An Artist Residency in Photos

    In December 2023, artisan Sarah Al Hosani hosted a ceramics demonstration and a discussion in Washington, D.C., as part of the Artisan in Residence program, a collaboration between the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the National Museum of Asian Art.

    Al Hosani is an Emirati ceramist and entrepreneur from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. She started practicing pottery in 2015, and in 2021 launched her studio, Khazaf for Fine Arts. While students at her studio dive into the world of wheel throwing, glazing, and more, Al Hosani’s work extends beyond technique. Khazaf for Fine Arts has become a vibrant community hub, fostering artistic connections and knowledge exchange among aspiring and seasoned artists alike.

    “My love for art started from a young age because my mom is a painter, and I grew up seeing art,” Al Hosani said. “I used to always join her in painting. Then in university, I decided to study multimedia design. I fell in love with pottery, and then I opened a studio for the public to learn more.”

    Al Hosani first brought her love of pottery and desire to share her culture to D.C. during the 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. As part of the UAE program, she demonstrated her craft, participated in panel discussions, and shared her love of pottery with visitors on the National Mall. In 2023, she excitedly returned for the Artisan in Residence program in hopes of more deeply connecting with visitors at the National Museum of Asian Art.

    “Most of the things that inspire me are the culture and heritage,” Al Hosani said. “I always like to connect my culture and create new contemporary minimal designs that are functional and that we use in everyday life, just like Arabic coffee cups, for example, or incense burners that we always find in the house. I am very honored as an Emirati woman to be invited to Washington, D.C. I wanted to show the world that Emirati women are very powerful and strong, and they can do so many things.”

    Scroll through the slideshow to see highlights from Al Hosani’s residency.

    A woman and a man look at shelves of ceramics in a studio room.
    On the first day of her residency, Al Hosani and her sister, Rawdha, took a private tour of Glen Echo Pottery, located just outside of D.C. in Maryland.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    Two women inspect a display board with small hung ceramic tiles, each finished with a different glaze. One woman takes a photo on her cellphone.
    The studio is one of the initial members of the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture whose mission is “to present vibrant artistic, cultural and educational offerings at Glen Echo Park.” Several professional pottery artists work at the studio, and many teach classes.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    Two people look at a piece of artwork on an office wall, made up of several eye-shaped pieces of palm wood painted and decorated and arranged on a black circular background.
    Center archivist Greg Adams gave Al Hosani a tour of the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections and the office. Al Hosani, along with other Folklife Festival participants from the UAE, contributed to this artwork by Azza Al Qubaisi.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    A woman leans over a potter wheel, sculpting a piece of reddish-brown clay.
    Al Hosani’s first public program at the National Museum of Asian Art was a ceramics demonstration. She spoke on how to use the tools, make basic shapes, and work the clay into a variety of artistic and practical objects.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    A woman speaks  next to a TV screen in front of a small, seated group.
    During her artisan talk with an engaged audience, she shared details about her inspiration, process, and her business, Khazaf for Fine Arts.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    Two photos side by side. Left: from above, people work on clay projects on a table. Right: two postcards of Emirati architecture and two circular clay designs.
    Finally, Al Hosani led a pottery workshop for museum visitors, who were able to learn about techniques and draw inspiration from traditional Emirati architecture.
    Photos by Beth Ferraro
    From above, people work on clay projects on a table.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    Three people stand in a museum gallery next to a display of ceramic bowls.
    The fun didn’t stop there! After a weekend of programs, National Museum of Asian Art curator Sol Jung gave Al Hosani and her sister a tour of a new exhibit Knotted Clay. They discussed many cultural overlaps, including ceremonies and traditions of drinking tea and coffee in clay pots.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    A person examines artwork on a gallery wall.
    Al Hosani also explored the Middle East Institute, located in Dupont Circle, including the exhibition The Sea of Life: Modern and Contemporary Art from The Kingdom of Bahrain.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro
    A woman gives a peace sign, standing in front of rows of dried flowers hanging from the ceiling.
    The last visit was a private tour of Qatar America Institute for Culture, also located in Dupont Circle, led by curator Laila Jadallah, on the last day of its Perfumery Museum.
    Photo by Beth Ferraro

    Reflecting on her residency, Al Hosani said, “This experience will always stay in my memory as one of the best professional experiences I had in my life.”

    Beth Ferraro is the artisan coordinator working with the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the National Museum of Asian Art Museum on this pilot program. She is the curator at Gallery Y at the YMCA Anthony Bowen in D.C., teaches chair yoga to seniors, and serves as an art and community consultant under the name The Art Island.

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