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2022 summer exhibition, The Water-Carrier Died, on view in Space 204

Posted by on Monday, June 13, 2022 in News and Events.

“The Water-Carrier Died” exhibition poster, designed by Qais Assali, 2022.

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 artist 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.

This exhibition is part of the Vanderbilt, Arts, and the Middle East: Building Bridges to the Global and the Local program curated and organized by Raheleh Filsoofi, Jonathan Rattner, and Qais Assali.

Space 204 is located on the second floor of the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center in the heart of the Vanderbilt University campus. Regular gallery hours are Mondays thru Thursdays 10am to 4:30pm.

Currently, the Studio Arts Center is temporarily set to “card access only” and Space 204 requires appointments to exhibitions.

Exhibitions are free to the public.

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 Youssef El Sebai. 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.


  • Closing Reception
    August 30, 2022
    Time: TBD
    Space 204 Gallery, Department of Art, Vanderbilt University
  • Abracadabra: Video Works by Sarah Brahim, Ronnie Karfiol, and Laleh Mehran
    June 4 – 25, 2022
    Coop Gallery (Nashville, Tennessee)
    Organized by Jonathan Rattner and Raheleh Filsoofi
  • Elmahaba Center – Livestreamed events 
    • Sunday, July 3, 2022 – Livestreamed through Elmahaba Center social media
      1:30 – 2:00   –> light refreshments (provided by Elmahaba) and exhibition open for viewing
      2:00 – 3:00   –>conversation (in Arabic)
      Panelists: Mr. Ashraf (Elmahaba board member; theater/film artist); Mohsen Ramsis (exhibiting artist); Qais Assali
    • Sunday, July 17, 2022 – Livestreamed through Elmahaba Center social media
    • 1:30 – 2:00   –> light refreshments (provided by Elmahaba) and exhibition open for viewing
      2:00 – 3:00   –>conversation (in English)
      Panelists: Keria Nashed (exhibiting artist); Bassam Habib (exhibiting artist); and Qais Assali

Exhibition Curator

The Water-Carrier Died exhibition is curated by 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 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 host additional component events 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 we 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.

Vanderbilt, Arts, and the Middle East: Building Bridges to the Global and the Local is a program curated by Raheleh Filsoofi, Jonathan Rattner, and Qasi Assali, the members of the Space 204 exhibitions committee (2021-2022). Thank you to the various collaborators, partners, and co-sponsors who are helping plan all events.

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



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