ArtsIn Z Hood

KidZ in Z Hood: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Girl

Sami Barka with Noura Barka painting in preparation for the upcoming Origami exhibit. Photo by Sonia Campos

By Kelly MacConomy

Eight-year-old 3rd grader Noura Barka can’t remember a time in her life when art was not central to her sense of self. She began as a toddler coloring outside the lines with crayons. By the age of three she was asking her mother to let her try acrylic and tempera painting. Recently she has started mastery of her watercolor technique. Her mother, Sonia Campos, is an artist as well, while her older brother Sami is engaged with Noura in an origami project for an exhibit opening this month. It’s a family affair.

Noura has 10 mixed-media works on exhibit at the Arlington Connection, a pop-up art space in the Crystal City Satellite Library. The exhibit is the first time Noura’s artistic vision has been on display to the public. Noura divined the name for her latest body of work when, upon finding a box of beads, she made the letters spell out “Kiss the Dream and Smile”. Each piece in the show is inspired by flights of fancy and “dreamery”. They include “Imagination”, “Fantasy”, and “Rainbow Pollock”, named for one of Noura’s favorite artists.

In an interview with the Zebra Noura explained what and who inspires her to create art, sharing some of her favorite things.

What famous artists inspire you?

I like Frieda Kahlo and have dressed like her for Halloween but I think Jackson Pollock inspires me the most because he has good ideas with throwing paints and I like to do that a lot. I also like Ushino Shinohara’s box paintings.

What is your favorite color?

My favorite colors are hot pink, leopard print, and teal and any blue.

What? Not Zebra print?


Other than art what is your favorite subject in school?

I like my STEAM and science classes.

If you could paint a picture of your dreams what would it look like?

A field full of all flowers and a sunrise with an orange sky next to an ocean filled with dolphins and fish.

Who would you like to meet one day and perhaps paint them?

Taylor Swift because she’s my favorite songwriter and she has a lot of good poses.

Noura working on a new creation. Photo by Sonia Campos

One of Noura’s imaginative mediums is making shadow boxes and creating unusual origami. Japanese art is a major influence. Faces, especially eyes, fascinate her incessantly. At one time her mother Sonia was her muse. Now Noura explores patterns, intrigued by shape and dimension leaning toward new modes of abstraction in her expression. In her spare time Noura is a regular kid – ruling her school, going to Girl Scouts and dancing to “Wildest Dreams”. Noura also loves and studies ballet. She is auditioning for the Nutcracker this holiday season.

“Kiss the Dream and Smile” will be on exhibit at the Arlington Connection until the end of November. Noura frequently visits the gallery space. If you are lucky you may get to meet this extraordinary young artist. Stop by soon to explore her dreams and share a smile.

Arlington Connection at the Crystal City Satellite Library is located at 2100 Crystal Drive in The Shops at Crystal City, Arlington. The Pop-Up Branch is closed Sunday and Monday.

Call The Connection for hours at 703-228-7520 or check the website.

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