Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Art Crush: Hassan Hajjaj

There are times when I develop what I like to call “visual obsessions” with work from various artists. I don’t know what it is about certain artwork that just makes my eyes water from excitement, followed by temporary light-headedness and a brief shortage of breath. I get this urge to want to cover every inch of my room in the work that I just spent hours upon days looking at through a computer screen wishing there was a way to capture the images in their original essence and stash them where I can always view their true beauty. Is that just extraordinarily over-the-top and abnormal? Probably; welcome to my life. Anyway, my most recent visual obsession has been with artist Hassan Hajjaj. Hajjaj’s art is yet another beautiful product of a perfect cultural mash-up.  

Hassan Hajjaj is an African artist who moved from Morocco to London during his adolescent years. He first began to display his artistic talents through the world of interior design and fashion. This eventually led him to purchase his first camera and experiment on a new type of canvas without any formal education in the arts or photography.  Using his bi-cultural background, Hajjaj often creates art that depicts both African and European cultures. He produces images that display symbols of cultural traditions as well as stereotypical depictions of Islamic culture, the orient, and other non-western cultures. He then juxtaposes these images with symbols from pop-culture and Western trademarks such as Coca-Cola cans. Hajjaj uses the power of popular brands such as Coca-Cola as a way of bridging two cultures together with a highly recognizable product. A wide variety of viewers can relate to his artwork through these familiar images though the artwork speaks to the viewers in different ways. Through a mix of contrasting hues, clashing patterns, and slightly humorous cultural juxtapositions, Hajjaj has found a way to incorporate his experiences, background, and cultural-influences in an art form that questions the true meaning of “cultural identity” and “the other”.

 With infinite love,
The Frohemian

Thursday, May 23, 2013

TTT3: Culture-Woven Fabric

(Labels: Black Tank- Bebe, White Lace Tank- American Apparel)

I inherited this Ankara skirt from my grandmother, along with many other types of Ankara apparel, most of which were handmade (my grandmother was an AMAZING seamstress and an even better dresser). I have a slight addiction to Ankara fabric and I have a strong feeling that it will appear in my wardrobe quite frequently this summer.

Ankara fabric is also known as Dutch wax print fabric and although it is most commonly referred to as African print or having African origins, the fabric was actually crafted by the Dutch as an Indonesian-inspired, batik-like fabric. After the Dutch introduced the fabric to the European market, it began to be mass-produced but it did not gain popularity until it reached modern-day Ghana and began to spread throughout West Africa. After the fabric caught on in West Africa, the Dutch were inspired to design the fabric in order to better reflect West African culture and focus less on Indonesian batik.

Ankara fabric alone tells a deep history of cultural blending and sharing. I think that it is a perfect example of how beautiful things can be created with the participation and combination of different cultural influences!

Of course, with such atypical patterns and color combinations expressed in each piece of Ankara fabric, it can be difficult to style it without distracting from its overall beauty. I figured these images might help a little:

(Blogger and huge inspiration- Folake of

(The Boxing Kitten)
(Italian Designer Stella Jean)

 With infinite love,
The Frohemian

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Beautiful Creations: Pakistani Truck Art

Decorated Pakistani trucks (also known as jingle trucks) are seen as the most unique and beautifully decorated vehicles in the world. Each truck is hand-painted and can display an assortment of poems, portraits, religious symbols, and anything else that may come to the mind of the truck owner or the artist. Along with intricate murals and designs, the truck is also adorned with decorative pieces such as painted, metal cutouts, lights, mirrors, and chains and bells to make the vehicle jingle as it rides (hence the name “jingle truck”). Each truck is lavishly decorated in a way that is unique to the region in which the truck is from.



A lot of time and money goes into the transformation of these flashy forms of transportation but for many truck drivers, it is a sacrifice rooted in love. Other vehicles such as buses and taxis may also display similar artwork but it is often done as a way to attract more passengers.

Truck art is not contained inside Pakistan borders. It can found throughout Asia as well as South America. It has even been displayed in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Even with truck art’s near world-wide attention, Pakistan remains unrivaled in the world of beautiful, intricate, vehicular art.

Over the years, truck art has become a cultural symbol in Pakistan. The truck is a large canvas that serves not only as a means to transport goods but also as a form of cultural expression.


 With infinite love,

The Frohemian

(The truck-only photos used in this post were taken from various Pintrest pages)
(The photos with the models were taken by Pakistani photographers and make-up artists, Maram & Aabroo )
(For more information regarding Pakistani truck art, blogger Ehtisham has some great sources to refer to on

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Thrifts and Threads Thursday


Found this amazing piece at a thrift store in the city. The cashier was quite comical when I went to purchase it. She tried to sell me other garments that she described as "more modern" but I couldn't resist the flowy fabric and all around psychedelic nature of this dress!

Even without the cashier's hints, I was well aware that this dress was not the most hip style of this decade, which is what drew me even closer to it. I love styles of the past! Style always has a way of being recycled and remarketed to the next generation...although I can be a little behind on the times sometimes, but hey, I don't see anything wrong with kickin' old school. This Indian-inspired maxi peasant dress style was pretty popular in the mid-1960's within the hippie culture. Although my knowledge of the hippie movement is not too advanced, I could carry on for days about how it was shaped and formed by a plethora of different cultures from around the world from popular hippie practices and images alone...but I will spare you and keep it short. Hippie fashion was especially influenced by different cultures and it truly promoted the idea of recognizing the beauty in other cultures, sharing that beauty, and being inspired by the world around us!

 As far as the origin of this particular dress- well there are no tags and when I first purchased it, it smelled as if it had been festering in a storage box beneath other pieces from yesterday's closet before it was dusted and donated. Although there is no way of telling, I think I got quite the vintage gem with this one!... at least I hope I did.

The fabric is a tad heavy for this time of year but you better believe the second the temperature drops, even for a moment, I will be sporting it like it's 1967!

 With infinite love,
The Frohemian

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Catorce de Mayo

I made this sketch in order to highlight the beauty of Mexican culture. I absolutely adore the vibrancy and liveliness that is often found in the Mexican culture. Everything from clothing to music seems simply alive. The necklace is from the Relative Culture leather line and it is made of Deerskin Leather and Mexican Peacock Ore- it is one of the most vibrant and naturally beautiful minerals that I have ever come across. I swear every time I wear this necklace, I feel stunning, more upbeat, and more comfortable being a "stand out". I am more noticeable and complimented when I wear this necklace so I suppose "Peacock" Ore is quite the appropriate name!

Okay- so I realize that today is "Catorce de Mayo" and, as far as I am informed, there is no highly recognized, historically relevant celebration in the Mexican or American culture in honor of this day. Buuuuuuuut- seeing as I was still M.I.A on May 5th, I am going to revisit the past in today's blog post and briefly talk about the significance of Cinco de Mayo.

May 5th is historically recognized as the day that the out-numbered, ill-equipped, Mexican army defeated the French army in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. It is celebrated in parts of Mexico (mostly Puebla) as El Día de la Batalla de Puebla in honor of the Mexican underdogs who fought for their land. Cinco de Mayo originated in the U.S. where it was brought to light by the Mexican-American community.  Cinco de Mayo is seen as a day to celebrate Mexican heritage. It is an appreciation of Mexican culture and tradition and it is celebrated by both Mexican and non-Mexican Americans.

Unless you are very new to this blog, I'm sure you can understand why I am all for a proper Cinco de Mayo celebration... no, not because I love cultural celebrations... well, sorta, but because I love cultural mash-ups! America is so diverse and shaped by cultures from all over the world but this worldly influence can sometimes be forgotten. It is great to recognize and, above all, respect the many different cultures and people that shape America and shape what it means to be an American.

Con amor infinita,
The Frohemian

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Springtime Love


 (Ahh, Spring Weddings)

 (Blue Mosque- Istanbul/Constantinople)

(Alhambra- Granada)

 (...She clearly understands my love for elaborate doors- true friend)

Well, Spring has officially arrived up here in the northern hemisphere!

For reasons known only to Mother Nature, spring has always had this magical way of awakening my long-rested mind and body and propelling me into a state of alertness and full activity. It feels as if the world around me is stretching, yawning, and waking up with me. 

The semester really started to speed up, as it does at the beginning of every spring season. Work has been crazy all around, since catching the spring vibe, and there will be no slowing down until spring returns to her tri-season hibernation and allows summer to grace the world with her warm, relaxed demeanor.

Since my move from Europe, it’s been an interesting adventure trying to run a small business while studying, pretending to be the least bit tech savvy and keeping up with my other occupations. Luckily, I have been somewhat productive!

Anyway, as I have said multiple times now, I really love this whole blogging thing and the idea of connecting with people from all over the world so I hope to stick with it regardless of my tech-deficiencies, personal pandemonium, and internet bouts. It may not be as frequent as I’d like but as long as I know there are others who actually want to make a worldly connection with my quirky, dorky, culture-obsessed mind then I shall connect on.

The Springtime pics above were taken by me and the Euro Beauts of Relative Culture who believe in the power of travel and opportunity, the importance of connecting with the world, and contributing to a Relative Culture of beauty! If you are a Relative Culture Beaut or you just have some awesome pics from your neck of the woods or travels 'round the world, please send them my way so I can post them and we can all bask in the beauty that the world has to offer!

With infinite love,
The Frohemian