Work of Art: 9A Letters
Hazem el Mestikawy
born 1965
9A Letters
Recycled cardboard and paper; nine components
Linear installation of nine components: approx. 177 in. (449.6 cm)
Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

El Mestikawy’s distinctly architectural forms are constructed from raw materials found in the urban environment. In addition to realities of modern life, the artist’s work is informed by the philosophy of Sufi Islam, apparent in his attention to script and references to numerology (here, the mystically significant number nine). 9A Letters is a sculptural rendering of the first letter of nine alphabets, each used in Egypt’s region at some point in its ancient history. El Mestikawy cites intensive attention to a single form—in this case, the letter A— as an expression of singular devotion.

When a letter is abstracted into three dimensions, script takes on new meaning, overriding the letter’s function as text. Recycled materials originally generated for mass consumption are submitted to El Mestikawy’s creative process, synthesized and reinserted into his personal meditation, which moves beyond conventional language, definitions, and form. The history of knowledge and passage of time are embedded in these varied alphabets: some current; others relegated to obscurity.

From left:

Hieroglyphic A

Coptic A

Kufic A

Hieratic A

Old Roman A

Neskh A    

Demotic A

Old Athens A

Modern A


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