Currently on view
University of Houston
Exterior wall of the Graduate College of Social Work (map)


“Writing messages is the essence of my artwork. Even Arabic-speaking people really need to focus a lot to decipher what I’m writing. You don’t need to know the meaning to feel the piece. I think that Arabic script touches your soul before it reaches your eyes. There is a beauty in it that you don’t need to translate.” – eL Seed

About the project
The celebrated “calligraffiti” artist, eL Seed, creates spectacular public paintings that blend the historic art of Arabic calligraphy and the modern art of graffiti. During the Mitchell Center’s 2016 CounterCurrent festival, he created an original, large-scale outdoor artwork on the University of Houston campus.

eL Seed has created dynamic public art works throughout the world using his signature style. His content often draws from phrases in poetry, using intricate composition to illustrate both the meaning and the movement of words. Working primarily with subjects that seem contradictory, eL Seed’s art reflects the reality of humankind and the world we live in today – a clashing of cultures, languages, and identities.

For CounterCurrent16, the creation of his work was a durational public event, inviting community members to celebrate the making of the painting as a time-based experience. While some structure was planned, much of the creativity happened in the moment: while he painted, the wall became like a window into the inspired artist’s mind as he entered a state of pure creative movement, transfixing in its fluidity.

eL Seed is presented as part of INTERSECTIONS, a Mitchell Center initiative that seeks to build bridges between visiting artists and Houston’s Muslim and non-Muslim residents. INTERSECTIONS is made possible in part by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters; Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

About the artist
eL Seed is a French-Tunisian street artist whose practice was born on the streets of Paris, and now adorns walls across every continent (except Antarctica). By bringing the rich history of traditional Arabic calligraphy into the context of graffiti, urban culture, and politics, eL Seed establishes that art in the Arab world is continuing to grow in practice, style, breadth, and function. His art has been shown on the walls of many cities around the world including Paris, New York, Jeddah, and Melbourne.

In 2012, he completed a 47-meter high minaret on the Jara mosque in the southern Tunisian city of Gabes, spreading the message of unity. Shortly after, he was commissioned by the Qatar Museums Authority to paint tunnels in Doha in Salwa Road. In 2015, eL Seed was named a TED Fellow, becoming a member of this network of innovators with the potential to positively change the world.

In 2016, eL Seed completed a project in Cairo, Egypt, that spans the faces of more than 50 buildings. The mural is a circle of orange, white and blue in Arabic calligraphy, and quotes a third-century Coptic Christian bishop who said, “If one wants to see the light of the sun, he must wipe his eyes.”

LOCATION: University of Houston. Exterior wall of the Graduate College of Social Work
PARKING: Visitor parking available in UH Lot 16B