Syrian born, Osama, moved to the United States in 1995. In his native country he was a tailor and later a photographer, a profession he continues to this day, but felt he needed to expand his “cultural borders, living in France, Spain and the U.S.” He is fluent in Arabic, English, French, Persian and Spanish.
Osama likens the Mississippi River to the Euphrates and Jordan River, having taken a road trip from the headwaters in Itasca State Park to the Gulf of Mexico. It is what draws him to Minnesota.
‘Since that decision of leaving Damascus, I keep thinking about it. It really makes me sad that I lost all these years away from my home country, but I found in the state of Minnesota, what I lost in Damascus. It still has that feel.”
I moved to the US in ‘95. Before that, I was living between France and Spain, trying to study cinema, but I kept doing what I like to do — technical photography; I call myself [a] technician. But some of my work [is] considered art, which is great.
In ‘93, when I found the need to continue my cultural immigration, I used to operate job back, back home in Damascus as a tailor and a photographer, and it was very successful. But I felt this, there’s more for me to do outside the borders of my culture, so I immigrated to France first. And I have this blood connection to Spain; I always called that — tell that to myself. Which, after 20 years, I had about 17 solo exhibitions in Spain. That connection still exists. You know, since that decision of leaving Damascus, I keep thinking about it, that it’s really make me sad that I lost all these years away from Damascus. But I found in the state of Minnesota, what I lost in Damascus; it still have that feel. My compass works here, and I have issue with my compass working in other countries, geographically. I feel I’m grounded to certain places like this — Istanbul, Cairo, Minnesota, in many of parts of the state.
As I used to feel my connection, my compass connection to the — my city of birth, Damascus. So in a way I don’t feel like I immigrated, and I left my environment. I just feel like I was automatically evolved as a residents of this planet, you know, to create these links between some places. I feel it like a message I have to do. That’s why I move between Damascus — I mean, between Minnesota and many other Middle Eastern countries, like Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Cairo, Istanbul, and there’s so much to talk about. The things I’ve seen that in common and different in a way that make me feel richer than who I am.