Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Bob Rob Medina, visual artist and teacher.
When former San Diego-based artist/teacher Bob Rob Medina was laid off as a result of public school budget cuts, he didn't panic as many of his colleagues did. "I took my future into my own hands. I contacted an agency about working overseas," says Medina.
He and his wife Ana, also a teacher, were willing to go anywhere, and thought they would end up in China. Instead they packed up for Alexandria, Egypt, where they have been living and teaching since 2009.
He is temporarily back in San Diego this week to present new artwork inspired by his time spent in Alexandria. "Where You From? A Collection of Sights and Sounds from Alexandria, Egypt," which opens Saturday at Voz Alta Project in Barrio Logan, features 500 photographs (including images from the recent revolution); 50 drawings, paintings and prints; video, political posters, audio (from everyday street noise to traditional and contemporary Egyptian music) and "a little bit of everything else that represents the excitement and chaos of pre- and post- revolution life in Alexandria." There will even be Egyptian-style falafel sandwiches on hand at Saturday night's opening.
"The concept of the show is to turn the gallery into Alexandria for the evening, with all sorts of things that you would encounter when you’re there," says Medina. And like the city itself, the interactive installation is deliberately overwhelming. "Expect to be overwhelmed by your senses: the sights, the sounds and the smells," says Medina.
One major feature of life in Alexandria will be missing in the gallery: cats. "You can’t walk out of our complex without encountering at least 10-15 stray cats roaming around. I asked Carlos (Beltran, who runs Voz Alta Project), 'Can I bring in a bunch of stray cats?' for the opening, and he replied, 'I don't think so,'" says Medina, with a chuckle.
Medina speaks with KPBS Midday Edition about life in Egypt pre- and post-Mubarak and his upcoming art show.
“Where You From? A Collection of Sights and Sounds from Alexandria, Egypt” opens Saturday (6-9 pm) and runs through August 12 at Voz Alta Project (1754 National Avenue) in Barrio Logan.