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The David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center will exhibit Periphery, a new seriesof text- and image-based paintings by Dahlia Elsayed, March 20-April 28. The artist will give a brown bag talk 12:15 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at the center, 101 McCartney Street.

Periphery features work that examines the invisible and ignored life of urban places that exist in the shadow of a great metropolis. The paintings use text, map-like images, aerial views, and charting symbols to explore the landscape of a place that identifies itself most clearly by its proximity to another place.

“My interest in mapping comes in part from my own personal experience,” says Elsayed. “My family has relocated from country to country in the past three generations due to political strife. The oral histories passed down about those journeys have fostered in me the idea that a place is less shaped by architectural layouts and more by the social experiences and memories that occur there.”

Born in 1969 in New York to an Armenian mother and Egyptian father, Elsayed uses her artwork to document personal history, but it also lends itself to a larger context of women’s daily lives. Her paintings are reminiscent of the rug work and embroidery of her great-grandmother and grandmother. Although the materials and purpose are different, she maintains a tradition of expression that speaks visually, creating a “communicable history.”

Her paintings and artist books have been shown at numerous institutions nationally and internationally, including a solo exhibition at Jersey City Museum. Elsayed’s works are in the permanent collection of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York and the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Collection. She has received grants from Edward Albee Foundation, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and ArtsLink.

Elsayed earned her MFA with independent study in book art at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 1991 she graduated magna cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English. She also attended Center for Book Arts in New York.

The exhibit was organized by the Office of Intercultural Development. The Portlock Black Cultural Center Gallery is open 10 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays or by appointment. For more information, call (610) 330-5698.

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