“Taking Shape” NYU Student Writing Prize Winners: Azeki Ali

November 10, 2020

Congratulations to Azeki Ali, first place winner in the Grey Art Gallery’s NYU Undergraduate Writing Prize competition; Amelia Grace Annen, second place winner; and NiccolòAcram Cappelletto, honorable mention. The Prizes were awarded for the best essay or poem by an NYU undergraduate student in response to the exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, which was on view at the Grey from January 14 to March 13, 2020. The show was forced to close early due to COVID-19, and entrants worked from the full suite of images, gallery labels, and other resources placed on the Grey’s website. The contest judge was Lucy Oakley, Head of Education and Programs at the Grey.



Afaf Zurayk (Born Beirut, 1948), Human Form, 1983. Oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 14 1/8 in. Collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE. From the exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s.

by Azeki Ali

Many artists—the “first” within their culture
Though their culture might’ve been the “first” of many artists
The deep dark tones exemplify light
The light is never truly out of sight
I seek to answer—
I seek to recall—
Knowing it all—between the hues created by Younan
Created by Afaf Zurayk
Created by more than 5 x 5 x 5
Cre-ated more than just a 5 by 5
They put their faith in something first
They put their art into action for it
Action for Abstraction … “from the Arab World”
Takes Shape.

Azeki Ali is a junior in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, concentrating on Political Action through Acting & Dance, with a minor in French. He expects to graduate in May 2022.