Language can often be a barrier that stops people from connecting. This can happen between languages, or even within a language. However art can be a universal language. This universality brings people from different walks of life together, and allows them to get to know one another. el Seed is a street artist who has done just that. Using his calligraffiti, a style of graffiti that includes Arabic script. Though he was born in Paris France, el Seed connects to his Tunisian roots in his artwork. He started to learn to write Arabic calligraphy when he was a teenager. Since he was in France, he didn’t have a teacher that could teach him the intricacies of the language. This lead to him creating a writing style that was incredibly unique. In 2012 to Gabes, which is located in Southern Tunisia. He was looking for any wall that someone was willing to let him paint. As luck would have it the local Imam, or person who leads prayer in a mosque, had been waiting for 18 years for someone to decorate a minaret. This piece is that set the stage for the rest of his work. This piece and many of his pieces since have a common theme. He always chooses a quote that is relevant to the area, and writes it in his calligraffiti style. This piece was well received by many, especially the local community. There was a swell of pride in this community as their hometown was gaining positive attention from news outlets around the world. Arts ability to transcend language barriers allows for el Seed to be an ambassador for his culture. It gives him the ability to tell a story that is related to a place and the culture of that place, while show casing the Arabic culture through language. His pieces push others to try and understand what is unfamiliar to them. Which in turn allows people to learn about other cultures, and the people who live within them.
The success of el Seed’s first large scale piece lead to him becoming a global artist. He has decorated many walls all over the world including Paris, Tunisia, New York, Rio Di Janeiro, the slums of Cape Town, and Manshiyat Nassir. People really enjoyed the messages he was spreading as well as the visually stunning imagery. He brings Arabic language and culture to all cities whose walls he paints. His works call for tolerance and understanding wherever they are placed, most recently and notably in Manshiyat Nassir. His piece named Perception showcases that heart of his work . el Seed created an anamorphic piece; a piece of art that’s complete form is visible from one angle in the small city of Manshiyat Nassir. Manshiyat Nassir is looked down upon by many, because it collects and sorts the garbage of its neighboring city Cairo. This city receives a large amount of aid from other communities because of its main profession. However el Seed found out once he began to speak to these people, that they are a very noble and capable people. Once their community leader, was on board, every one pitched in to help. el Seed learned from talking to them and seeing their actions who they really were. They were a group of people that was willing to help other. They displayed their generosity to those creating the piece by offering a hand or giving them food or tea. . They were hard workers, when helping but also in their daily lifes. In fact, The Coptic Community of Zaraeeb has created the most efficient recycling system in the world. el Seed learned the exact lesson he was trying to teach in this work and many before it. He learned that people are not who you think they are. To truly get to know a persona and a community you must get to know them. You have to question what you have been told and the biases that you have, in order to let a new culture into your life. The message of the piece it self states this in the most eloquent way. The quote chosen for this piece is, “anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eyes first”. This is a lesson that is universal. More often then not people create an idea of what another culture with out any really experience or facts to back that up. However once you really understand someone else you start to understand who he or she really is, and that’s why el Seeds work is so important to the Arabic culture. It allows everyone inside of it or outside of it to learn and understand the Arabic culture.
The stunning power of the pieces that el Seed has created, has lead to several news outlets bringing attention to his message. A few pieces that focus around the meaning and impact have been written by The Huffington Post, CNN and, the New York Times. The Huffington Post piece titled “Stunning Mural In Cairo’s ‘Garbage City’ Stretches Across 50 Buildings” discusses the ability of an art piece to oblige majority groups to reconsider stereotypes. Discussing how el Seed has the ability to influence majority groups as well as minority groups. Similarly CNN writer speaks of the tolerance between groups el Seeds work fosters in her piece “Tunisian Artist Graffitis Minaret, Fights Intolerance”. Which she claims to be an invaluable lesson especially for a part of the world that is facing so much political unrest. New York Times writer Kareem Fahim wrote an article titled “Sprawling Mural Pays Homage to Cairo’s Garbage Collectors”. Fahim argues that these pieces gain power in spite of political turmoil. That there beauty comes from the cultural context they shine light on; bringing communities together despite the tricky political situation that they face.