Home > Uncategorized > City Hall exhibit focused on Moroccan life

City Hall exhibit focused on Moroccan life

By Roger DuPuis II (STAFF WRITER)
Published: February 6, 2010

The burning question at Scranton City Hall on Friday night had nothing to do with sewer rates or libraries.

“Where is the monkey?” asked guest after guest, elbowing gently through the crowded first-floor hallway with canapes in one hand and cups of Moroccan wine in the other.

Heather DiPaolo‘s black-and-white portrait of a Moroccan man holding a wiry little simian proved a fan favorite in her exhibit of photos from the North African country at the First Friday art walk in downtown Scranton.
The West Scranton resident traveled to Morocco last year as official photographer for a trip sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Public Policy. It’s a Washington, D.C.-based think tank founded by Scott Twp. native Joseph K. Grieboski, who was a Scranton Preparatory School classmate.

Twenty photos from that trip were chosen for the exhibit, “Morocco: The Western Kingdom,” though the artist’s heart rests with a different image.

It shows only the glittering midsection of a street vendor in Rabat, a belt of coins and brassy medallions reflecting the African sun.

She recalled the cups of water he dispensed to weary travelers, drawn from a yak-skin bag. One member of the entourage ventured to take a drink, and declared that it tasted like bacon.

It’s also the only photo in which Ms. DiPaolo appears, as a distant reflection in one of the medallions.

The popular monkey picture, meanwhile, tugged at her heartstrings in a different way.

It was taken at a Marrakesh market, where monkeys, snakes and other exotic creatures were offered up as photo props, for a fee. That, and their cramped, hot cages, saddened the photographer.

“I wanted to take him home,” Ms. DiPaolo said of the monkey.

Friday’s exhibit, part of this month’s First Friday art walk, was supposed to feature a visit by Aziz Mekouar, the Moroccan ambassador to the United States, and his staff, but the major mid-Atlantic snowstorm threatening to bury Washington, D.C., kept him away.

Mr. Grieboski’s group, founded in 1999 to help guarantee the rights of all people to express their religious beliefs, was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and 2008.

His favorite photo shows a family riding a motor scooter.

“It’s the one that I think speaks the most about the country.

“It shows the tight-knit relationship among family members. – It shows a dad riding a motorcycle with his kids,” he said, adding that the mother’s absence also speaks to cultural characteristics.

“It was the most real.”

Contact the writer: rdupuis@timesshamrock.com

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