Expressing emotion through Ebru art

The Turkish Marbling Art finds its way to Niagara University

Malika Budur-Kalila

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Ebru is the art of painting on oily water by mixing different color pigments  and transforming the outcome to paper. Ebru, also known as marbling,  includes designs of ornaments, flowers, mosques and other subjects. It belongs to the Central Asian art of the thirteenth century; however it was developed during the sixteenth century in the Ottoman Empire, where it spread globally through the Silk Way Road.

Ebru Art, listed  on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, found its way to Niagara University too.

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Ipek Saracoglu, a junior Political Science student at NU, brought the spirit of marbling to the campus. She is an artist from Turkey who learnt ebru from her father when she was ten years old. Since then, ebru has become a  “meditation” for Saracoglu.

Ebru uses tools such as brushes from horse hair, straight rose twigs, natural earth pigments and ox gall. Even the paints of ebru are made from organic pigment colors which do not dissolve in the liquid.

“It is like being in the nature,” Saracoglu says. “People find their own nature while doing ebru.”

Last April, Castellani Museum held the first ebru exhibition featuring work from Saracoglu and her father. She always had a dream to have her own exhibition and she happened to achieve her dream far away from her home country.

“It’s a dream come true,” Saracoglu says about the Castellani exhibition.

Saracoglu has held five workshops on campus and led the “Kids and Arts Camp” during the summer. She plans to expand her art beyond campus. This October, she will have a one-week ebru exhibition at Syracuse University and a workshop there in November. Saracoglu says she wants to spread ebru to upstate New York and also give workshops in different states.

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“It is not something interesting in Turkey, but here people are getting really amazed,” Saracoglu adds.

Saracoglu is very busy these days. Being a Political Science major and pursuing minors in Women’s Studies, Pre-law, and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies does not distract her from her artistic lifestyle.

“Art takes me to the different world,” Saracoglu says.“Ebru reminds me of my family ties, doing ebru at the studio with my father, sharing the paints, sharing brushes … sharing everything. It really makes me feel like I am home.”

It takes at least two years to maintain ebru skills; Saracoglu has being doing it for last 11 years. Despite that time, Saracoglu says, the final ebru painting you will get can never be predicted.

“Whenever you do it, you still do not know what will come on paper.” she says. “It is a  surprise, it is a magic.”

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