Tarek Abdelhay Hafez Abouelenin | Tentmakers of Cairo | 2016 Sponsored Artist

Tarek Abdelhay Hafez Abouelenin is a first-time Market who is part of this year’s International Folk Art Alliance (IFAA) Campaign for Artist Sponsorship. IFAA is honored to have him attend, enjoy, and benefit from 2016 International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe.

Tarek is a member of the Tentmakers of Cairo, a group of 23 shops on a single street that are the only place in Egypt where this art is practiced. Inspired by tents of the Ottoman Empire, mosque tile art motifs, and designs found in 2nd century BC tomb paintings, Tarek Abouelenin creates handstitched appliqué wall hangings using techniques passed down for 4,000 years.

For centuries, appliqué designs decorated the interiors of tents, used for dwellings, weddings, banquets, and celebrations in Egypt. Now the art has evolved, and survived, due to the Tentmakers of Cairo and their elevation and execution of the quality of each piece. While commissioned full-tent panels are rare, Tarek and the Tentmakers of Cairo are creating smaller pieces for interior spaces, such as wall hangings and cushion covers.

This art is done completely by hand, with only needle, thread, scissors, and fabric. Tarek works independently on each piece, and by creating multiple layers of handstitched appliqué he brings the work to life. The careful combination of colors is one of the most important elements of the art and a testament to the mastery of the artist. It can take many months for Tarek to finish a single wall hanging. This work is known for its intricate designs, including birds, geometric shapes, pharaonic patterns, and Arabic calligraphy. Some special pieces are done in the style of calligram, a phrase or word in which the design and layout of the letters creates a visual shape that relates to the meaning of the words.

Tarek and the Tentmakers of Cairo are teaching their children, as this art form has always been passed from father to son. He hopes that the world can learn the story and see the beauty of his work, which represents not just a single street in Cairo, but the history of Egypt and its people.

With your donation towards artist sponsorship, IFAA will be able to provide direct financial support for Tarek and other first-time Market artists to participate in this year’s International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe that includes:

  • Mentor to Market entrepreneurial education workshops designed to assist first-time Market artists to have the best possible opportunity for success
  • Warehousing and local transportation of artwork
  • International airfare
  • Lodging
  • Local transportation
  • Meals

Click here to learn more about all first-time Market artists in this year’s Artist Sponsorship Campaign.

Sponsor Tarek today. Gifts of every size make a difference. Your support will empower Tarek to transform his life and give voice to his community. Invest in timeless folk art traditions and enable Tarek and Tentmakers of Cairo be catalysts for social change.