Featured McGrath Gallery artist urges students to pursue their passion

October 11, 2018


The journey from Iraq to England to America -- and from mechanical engineering student to ceramics and sculpture artist -- has given Hadi Abbas some unique perspective on following dreams.

Abbas, an associate professor of art at University of Central Florida, has several wood-fired ceramic masterpieces on display in Bellarmine University’s McGrath Gallery, in the Wyatt Center for the Arts, through Monday, October 29. The free exhibition was organized by Bellarmine’s art department.

The McGrath Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. All McGrath art events are free and open to the public.

Hadi AbbasAbbas said his collection challenges the public to analyze his use of clay when there are other modern materials available.

“Clay is a very old material compared to today’s plastic," he said. "Historically, we pollute the environment more than those before us did. We need to learn from history! That is why I chose to use clay. When it breaks, it regenerates.”

In 1979, Abbas moved from Iraq to England, and then to the United States. He began studying mechanical engineering at Georgia Southern University until he was a student in a ceramics class for an elective.

“I loved this elective," he said. "I knew that that was what I wanted to do even though I already completed three years of physics, calculus and chemistry.”

His collection uses different artistic techniques that he hopes will inspire others to chase their dreams. Abbas said: “A lot of people say an art major will not have a job, but that is a stereotype. Any skill done well with effort will provide a job opportunity. Money is not the only goal for a career.”

Three years after completing his undergraduate degree, Abbas applied to Wichita State University in Kansas for graduate school. He graduated in 1990. He has been on faculty at the University of Central Florida's School of Visual Arts & Design ever since.

Bellarmine University is located at 2001 Newburg Road. The Wyatt Center is near Frazier Hall. [campus map]

Article by Molly Jett and photo by Logan R. Viens, interns in Bellarmine's Office of Communications & Public Affairs.

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