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Egyptian Women Weave Cairo’s Traditions Into Their Art

A multimedia artist, jewelry maker, and dancer from Egypt talk about their work and how they incorporate influences from their time in Cairo into their art forms. Jeffrey Brown continues his series on the Kennedy Center's Arabesque arts festival.

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    Finally tonight, we continue our stories tied to "Arabesque," the festival of Arab arts at Washington's Kennedy Center. Jeffrey Brown traveled to Egypt recently and talked with three of the artists taking part in the festival.


    A jewelry maker taking from the past to create beautiful new objects.

    AZZA FAHMY, jewelry maker: I love my culture, and I love jewelry, and I put everything together.


    A dancer struggling to find acceptance in her own country.

  • KARIMA MANSOUR, dancer-choreographer:

    I've been confronted with this, that, why are you as an Egyptian doing contemporary dance and not belly dance, for example?


    An artist winning top prize in a government-sponsored exhibition for a work that sheds a dark light on life in her city.

  • LARA BALADI, artist:

    Which is based on the slums on the outskirts of Cairo, which have no water, no electricity, have the level of quality of life is incredibly low.


    Three women of Cairo coming to Washington's Kennedy Center to offer three different portraits of their vibrant, sometimes overwhelming city, a place of great wealth and acute poverty, where remarkable treasures of history can be found amid the chaos of a throbbing metropolis of 18 million people and cultural wonders sit — some in plain sight, others partially hidden — amid the noise, traffic, and polluted skies.

    In a country with so many layers of culture and history, so many problems in contemporary life, and so many questions about the future, there's a rich trove of material here for artists to work with.