My Rock Stars: An Exhibit by Hassan Hajjaj

Students Looking at Hajjij Exhibit

Today I accompanied Worcester Academy students and two of their teachers to the Worcester Arts Museum to see My Rock Stars, an experimental exhibit by Moroccan-born UK artist Hassan Hajjaj. The students are in our Postmodernism and the American Myth and 21st Century Identity: Race and Ethnicity courses offered by our English department.

Exhibit Information

The exhibit is completely immersive—everything from the wallpaper to the seating placed in various places around the exhibit. I have never seen anything quite like it. Photographs of Hajjaj’s subjects hang on the walls. Each photograph has a background with different patterned fabrics, and the colors are bright and beautiful.

Marques Toliver

Part of the exhibit is a video installation in which each of Hajjaj’s subjects perform a music piece while the other subjects appear to watch and enjoy the performances.

Video Exhibit

The exhibit even included an opportunity for students to color designs using ultra-bright colored pencils.

Students Coloring

After students had an opportunity to explore the exhibit, their teachers, Dave Baillie and Cindy Sabik, gathered the group together to talk about what they saw.

Students Discuss Exhibit

National Geographic Proof has a great article about the exhibit. In the article, Dr. Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head of the Art of the Middle East Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, says, “if music videos existed in 15th century Morocco, this is what it would look like.”

I think my favorite performance in the video was violinist Marques Toliver, who performed his song “Charter Magic.” The video below is not the same performance in the video, but it is the same song.

I also really liked Nigerian musician Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor (who performs as the Venus Bushfires), who plays the Hang, an instrument I had never seen before. Here is the song she plays in the video exhibit (this is not the same video as the one in the exhibit):

I wound up going to this exhibit because Cindy, my friend and colleague, had a conflict and was not going to be able to transport the students to the museum, and not all the students would fit in one vehicle. I was initially going to spend the entire day planning curriculum with ninth grade English and history teachers. Our departments are working toward a collaborative humanities model, and as the English department chair, I’ve been collaborating with the teachers and overseeing the development of the curriculum. I ducked out of our planning session at about 10:00 and returned around 12:30 to find they had made quite a lot of progress. I wasn’t sure I wanted to have such a busy day, but I am glad I didn’t miss the Hajjaj exhibit before it closes on March 6.

I’ve lived in Worcester for almost four years now, but this was my first trip to the Worcester Art Museum, too. We didn’t have a lot of time to look around the museum because we were on a tight schedule, but this exhibit was definitely worth the trip and the minor inconveniences of transporting a group of students. All of the color brightened my day.

Students Enjoying the Hajjaj Exhibit

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10 thoughts on “My Rock Stars: An Exhibit by Hassan Hajjaj”

  1. Wow! Your photos are amazing. They make me wish I was close enough to visit the Worcester Art Museum. What a great trip. I am forwarding your link to our art teacher. She creates amazing lessons on contemporary artists and their work. Thanks for introducing me to something new today!

    1. It was a great exhibit, and from what I was able to learn, it travels all over, so it may come to a museum near you. The colors were amazing. I have to say, for a smaller city, Worcester has a great art museum and some really interesting architecture.

  2. What a fantastic opportunity for the students and for you. The pictures are vibrant, and I’m sure the exhibit is one I’d enjoy. Feeling a little jealous, my friend.

  3. Are you teaching in Heaven? Sounds like you had one heavenly day at that exhibit with students. Incredible –the exhibit, the pictures and your thinking. Love it! The colors and mixed media in your post make me want to stop everything and paint. Thank you for giving us a peek, Dana.

  4. Wow! Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never heard of this artist, but I love the concept of “rock stars”. I wonder what would happen if we asked our own students to create a mini exhibit of their rock stars. Whom would they choose? Which rock stars would I choose? Interesting thought.

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