Face of War

Face of War

Christa Assad, Invaluable

Christa Assad, Invaluable, 2013, porcelain, underglaze, 11 x 12 x 13 in. Photo: Christa Assad

In making her gas-mask forms, Christa Assad wanted to highlight the vulnerability of the citizens of war-torn Syria. What she didn’t anticipate was how spot-on her timing was; “That same week I created the first gas masks, President Bashar al-Assad was accused of using chemical weapons in an attack that is believed to have killed more than  1,400 people,” says the Berkeley, California, ceramist.

Assad’s Syrian heritage – her grandfather emigrated when he was 16 – and the coincidence of a surname shared with a leader associated with attacks on his own people  was the impetus for her recent show “Proceed with Caution” at Seattle’s Abmeyer + Wood gallery. In addition to the life-size gas-mask forms, the exhibition included ceramic grenades, zeppelins, cinder blocks, and traffic cones – all to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 Syrians who have died and the millions of others uprooted from their homes.