Monday April 29, 2019 By: Alexandra Kinias
Art has a healing therapy. Whether you are an art connoisseur or an artist, wandering through an art gallery or producing your own art, a colorful painting or a unique design will have a therapeutic and soothing effect on you. But for the young passionate artist and entrepreneur Nourhan Elnemr, art is not merely strokes of a brush or a home decorative accessory, but also a social responsibility. With this belief, she launched her project “Fabrics of Hope” to shed light and raise awareness on the various issues that can help change the world to a better place. “From my perspective, I believe design is a powerful tool. It can change the world, just like medicine, architecture and other professions, if used properly,” she tells WoE.
Fabrics of Hope, is a fabric line with patterns and illustrations designed by the cancer heroes and heroines at the children cancer hospital. Elnemr brought these designs to life, transferring them from paper on fabric, but not by printing them in the traditional way. She commissioned underprivileged and unemployed women to embroider them into unique art pieces that could be used in interior design and fashion industry. In addition, a percentage of the proceeds is donated to the children cancer hospital.
“I chose embroidery over printing because with the technological changes we are going through, we tend to forget the value of our senses. The sense of TOUCH,” she explains. “Moreover, choosing embroidery added value to the cycle of positivity I’m trying to create. It starts with the drawings of children and ends by giving jobs to unprivileged families. I don’t mean only the women who embroidery the fabrics, but also the craftsmen who work with wood, upholstery, brass and glass to turn them to furniture and lamp shades.” Fabrics of Hope products include, cushions, frames, lighting fixtures, curtains, arm chairs and “whatever products that use fabric.”
Before embarking on their artistic journey, the children at the cancer hospital attended art classes taught by Elnemr, twice a week for six months. “I didn’t just teach them art techniques, but also art history and about famous artists like Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, Miro and Matisse. I showed them their famous drawings and painting and helped them understand and translate them in their own ways,” she adds. “What we are seeing here is famous paintings as seen through the eyes of cancer heroes.”
Elnemr is a senior at the American University in Cairo, set to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a double minor in business and economics. Her passion for design, which eventually led to the birth of Fabrics of Hope started after attending “Design for Happiness” course by designer Shosha Kamal in 2016. “This course was a threshold in my career. Being passionate about arts and design. I need someone to push me towards a passion, which I didn’t know it really existed until I finished the course. The course allowed me to understand what is design and how it can highly affect your life. And it indeed changed mine 360 degrees,” she says.
“After the course, I felt inspired. I felt I had power to change the world with design. I started reading about the power of design colors and how can we make the world a better place using design as a tool. I did a lot of research and I started with cancer, as cancer is a tough journey, and through this journey we can see the positive side of the world, which is hope and love.”
Elnemr also designed the new scrubs for the nurses at the hospital. Their concept was inspired by the children she met there. It was not a planned project. When she first went to introduce her work and vision, they were in the process of designing new scrubs, and they needed new ideas. Elnemr offered to help and was assigned the for task. “As I thought about the design, I felt they needed to have a message, a concept behind [the patterns on the fabric] not only bananas and monkey and rainbows,” she explains. “I went back and spent time with 12 children in the art therapy department. They talked about their fears, weaknesses and hopes. I translated that into individual illustrations, each addressed a message from one of the children. Then I infused the 12 illustrations into one pattern. I wanted to empower these children, and even parents and employees.”
In April 2019, Elnemr released the first collection of Fabrics of Hope in an exhibition at an art gallery. The products are also available on online to order. With the success of her first collection, and the positive feedback and reviews her products received, Elnmer is exploring the options to extend Fabric of Hopes to fashion industry. She is also researching and investigating her next collection. She has several ideas in mind. “I haven’t decided yet which idea I am pursuing next. All I can say is that each collection is a new positive cycle that benefits unprivileged families, and at the same time spreads hopeful awareness for a new cause.”
“I want to emphasize here that this is not a charitable project. It’s an art project that aims to help people. I don’t want customers to buy the products because they are just donating 25% of the profits to a good cause. I want people to buy them because they fall in love with the pieces,” she concludes.
Photos by Fabrics of Hope
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