Austin’s first-ever artist in residence isn’t required to make art, according to a recent Michael Barnes story in Austin360. Nor, according to a KUT profile by Audrey McGlinchy, does she live in Austin.
Both of those things will likely inform and enhance a collaborative foray between the city and painter, photographer, and printmaker Rehab El Sadek, one that is already causing a great deal of excitement.
El Sadek, who has made art in Africa and Pakistan and whose work has been exhibited in several European cities, is also a “social connector,” Barnes writes, who works for women’s rights and children with disabilities, among other groups and causes. Her combination of talents sounds spot-on for what the city wants, which is for El Sadek to help the city “resolve problems, provide innovative or new improvements, and help engage residents around community issues in creative ways,” according to a statement quoted by Barnes.
El Sadek will spend nine months embedded with the city’s Watershed Protection Department, which, as the artist told McGlinchy, is a “vital” agency in Austin. One of the city’s goals in creating the position is to increase participation between its agencies and residents—something that, as Barnes notes, local choreographer Allison Orr’s Forklift Danceworks company has done with a great deal of success, creating dance projects for sanitation workers, firefighters, electrical linemen and technicians, and urban foresters.
The irony of El Sadek’s living in Round Rock because she can’t afford to rent in Austin is not lost on anyone involved—and, is, in a roundabout way, an element of a second goal of the city’s program (part of Mayor Steve Adler's Music and Creative Omnibus adopted by the CIty Council last month, McGlinchy notes): to enable artists to stay in the city by crating more paid work and more housing for them.
• Austin names Rehab El Sadek artist in residence [Austin360]