U’s first Moroccan art gallery opens

Lhouceine Aamar, a University Humphrey Fellow and Moroccan native, presents his photography in “Bridges to Morocco.”

Images from the Bridges to Morocco exhibit on display at the Larson Art Gallery in the St. Paul Student Center on Wednesday morning.

Joe Sulik

Images from the Bridges to Morocco exhibit on display at the Larson Art Gallery in the St. Paul Student Center on Wednesday morning.

Destanie Martin-Johnson

Moroccan photography will be showcased in a first-of-its-kind exhibit at the University of Minnesota with “Bridges to Morocco” in the St. Paul Student Center opening Thursday.
 
The exhibit will showcase photography by Lhouceine Aamar, a Moroccan native and a 2014 University Humphrey Fellow.
 
“Bridges to Morocco” is Aamar’s first showcase. His gallery consists of about 15 photos of Moroccan museums, landscapes and a series of a project called “Light on Light” in which Aamar tries to capture different forms of lighting.
 
“I wanted [my artwork] to be totally different from the pictures you may see online,” Aamar said. He likens his photographs to paintings and said he wanted to capture
something more spiritual and deep about Morocco. 
 
He said he returned to Morocco this past year and continued his work as a police and public affairs officer.
 
“What drove me to [photography] is that I have this great passion for art and painting,” Aamar said. “I should start taking it more professionally.”
 
John Vreyens, the director of extension global initiatives, said the University began its studying areas of Morocco in the 1960s. 
 
Since then, the school has been involved in teaching and researching agriculture and veterinary science in the country, Vreyens said.
 
Within the last year, the department has been focused on an extension celebrating the relationship between the University and Morocco, he said.
 
Aamar met Vreyens while working in the law school’s Human Rights Center. When Vreyens saw his artwork, he asked Aamar if they could display it.
 
Vreyens said that “Bridges to Morocco” is part of the U’s strategy to encourage students to experience other cultures.
 
“The world’s becoming a smaller place, and the U of M is looking at ways to prepare the next generation of leaders,” Vreyens said. “You need to have skills to work in a multicultural environment.”
 
Although the department hopes to expand the focus to other countries, right now the focus is solely on Morocco. 
 
It isn’t clear yet if this will become an annual celebration at the U.  
 
Aamar said he hopes to focus more on his art, but it’s difficult to balance with his job as a police and public affairs officer in Morocco as well.
 
“If you love something, there’s always another way to do it,” he said