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Raúl Ayala & Noelle Ghoussaini

Noelle and Raúl sent us their conversation in the form of an email exchange. They asked us to keep their emails in this format.

Each year, our artist development program, Create Change, supports 15 to 20 artists developing their socially engaged creative practice through our Fellowship, Residency, and Commissions program. In 2012, we began asking our Create Change artists to pair up for Creative Conversations: open-ended creative exchanges to be published on our blog. Read on to meet our Create Change alumni.


Noelle and Rul sent us their conversation in the form of an email exchange. They asked us to keep their emails in this format.


On Sun, Aug 25, 2013 at 9:43 PM, Noelle Ghoussaini wrote:

hey! was so lovely chatting in the park yesterday :)
here is the question we came up with –


how do we continue to make work while both resisting and engaging in a capitalist framework?


noelle xxx


Raúl Ayala

Cool! I think this has a lot of potential!



Noelle Ghoussaini

hey raul –


here is my dialogue about our question. Look forward to seeing and responding to yours! Let me know if you have any questions





Girl goes to the fridge and brings a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice to her mother. Her mother takes a sip as the daughter walks back to her room

Mother: You don’t want any?

Daughter shakes her head, no.

Mother: It’s been three nights.

Daughter: I am okay mom, thanks though. Really. I’m just tired.

Mother: You can’t just stop drinking it, just like that.

Daughter: Mom, I really don’t want to make this a big deal.

Mother: Okay. fine. No big deal.

Daughter: Good. Goodnight.

Daughter starts to walk to her room.

Mother: But don’t forget, you’ve been drinking orange juice your whole life.

Daughter: Mom. Can you just let it go?

Mother: I was just saying.

Daughter: You were just saying what? What is it your looking for?

Mother: Nothing, I wasn’t looking for anything – I was just pointing something out. That’s all. I don’t see what you are getting so upset about.

Daughter: You always do this. I don’t want the juice. I don’t want to dream tonight. Okay?

Mother: You don’t want to dream? Honey…

Daughter: What?

Mother: You feel guilty.

Daughter: No, I don’t feel guilty.

Mother: Because they don’t get to dream and we do?

Daughter: Mom.

Mother: Just say it.

Daughter: Okay. They’re not allowed any kind of juice, no dreams! And look at us. Fresh oranges, fresh sleep, fresh dreams. I don’t know how to negotiate that.


Raúl Ayala

Hey Noelle, Great I am going to digest your script and send you something this week. I also made a drawing that my wife is going to scan today in her office, I will send it to you as soon as I have it.

Have a great beginning of the week!


Noelle Ghoussaini

thanks! look forward to getting your drawing :)


talk soon xxx


Raúl Ayala


It took me a week to scan it but now I know where to go. For the question I thought about common/difficult topics that are around us and how we can talk about them. Satire is for me the way to do it.

What do you think?

hope you are having a great time!

I will answer yours and send you something next week.




Noelle Ghoussaini

thanks for sending! will have a response to you in a couple days. very powerful image.


yes – I am always a big fan of satire. on that note – here is a link to a show i directed a while back that used satire to open dialogue around issues of representation of black women in the media. there are some photos and a video…i would be interested to know how do you use satire in visual representations? as a muralist?

also – i thought this article was interesting in regards to our question of engaging / resisting capitalism while still making new work.


noelle xxx


Noelle Ghoussaini

i just noticed that your image is called ‘satire’ – and when I first looked at it (which was only brief) , I didn’t recognize it as a satire….but now that I see that it is titled that, I am looking at it differently.

this is one of the interesting things about satire – that it represents a fine line between reality and the absurdity of reality, and so sometimes audiences don’t always recognize that something is satirical….something interesting i have always thought about when making satirical work…




Raúl Ayala

I went to your links and really liked the show and the article. I agree on the importance of not only talking about issues, but to engage in them and produce something meaningful for the community you are involved in. In this matter for me it’s important to keep helping with sign painting in different boycotts and manifestations about immigration and labor issues and I am also beginning a series of drawings about the reconstruction era in the US. I also feel a little hesitation about producing only political charged work, I really enjoy my abstract/figurative paintings that for me talk about the body in a more spiritual way.


Satire is tricky but I don`t think is it has to be always recognizable, as long as it makes you go back to the idea after the first impact. In my own work I have done a lot of political and religious satire with my death metal band. Now that I am not an active part of the group anymore they are filling my space with more theatrical performances. The image I sent you is taken out of the last concert they did. To see more pictures you can go here


I am curious about the first impression you had when you first glanced at the drawing, can you please tell me a little more about it?


I recently bought this book called Anarchic Pedagogics, have you read it?, I really recomend it, it gives you several perspectives on alternative education systems.


Im having fun playing with your script, I will send you something soon!.


abrazo grande


Noelle Ghoussaini


hey – so wonderful to see the pictures of the concert and how your image is directly inspired from it. And it’s interesting, especially to see the woman wearing the palestinian flag as her dress and the keffiyeh around her head.


And the book looks really great as well – would love to check it out at some point.


And I do agree with you that satire doesn’t have to be recognizable – but satirical work often is viewed differently when it is framed as satire or not framed as satire. I took a class on satire for my masters program, and I would love to share with you some of the reading materials and source materials we studied…I have a lot of it at home still. I think you would find it interesting. One case study was of Dave Chappelle, and how he felt his work was no longer being seen as a satirical challenge to society, but instead perpetuating some of the racism he was trying to address/challenge in his work. Which led him to stop his show.


So, with satire, I think it walks a very specific and sometimes blurry line. not a bad thing – oftentimes a great thing – just something interesting to note.


and my initial reaction to your drawing was from a brief interaction with it, but i saw it as an intense war image. I saw men being lured by what I thought of as death, and women suffering at the cost of these soldiers seeking out some sort of power through generating death. But then – I was also impacted by the drink the soldier / pig was holding, and his need to hallucinate, look to something other worldy because he couldn’t handle the reality of what was happening before him.


I am working on my response and will hopefully have it to you tomorrow!


talk soon –


noelle :)


Noelle Ghoussaini

hey Raul,


Attached is my recorded, theatrical / musical response to your piece! hope you enjoy….





Raúl Ayala

This is really cool!, I really like all the layers and the melody you put in it.


I attached my response to your text, take a look and lets see what we can do from here.





PD: I misspelled “always” in one of the drawings.



Scan 1


Noelle Ghoussaini

hey raul,


love this! the first has a science-fiction feel, and the second a mix of satire / sci-fi / 50s american commercials / comic strip. really cool.


So – technically, these are due on Friday. I was thinking of asking petrushka if we could have until Monday so that maybe we can chat and put the whole thing together on Sunday after our group meeting?


Do you think we should do one more response to each other’s work? or should we leave it at these and maybe also include our email conversations? I am open to either…


noelle xxx


Raúl Ayala

hey Im glad you liked it. Probably its better to leave it like that since is an exercise, I think  what we have until now with the mails and everything is a pretty good example.

With that being said if you want to keep collaborating with me with this maybe we can figure out some other results. Im thinking maybe a monthly (or twice a month) comic strip with sound or something like that. We can figure out the things we want to talk and then do it at our own pace during the month.


un placer trabajar contigo!



Noelle Ghoussaini

i would love to keep collaborating! sounds lovely….


and yes – I think we are good for this now. let’s talk on sunday about how we can keep exploring?





Raul Ayala webRaúl Ayala is a Visual Artist and Educator that focuses on the production of murals, drawings urban art and illustration, encompassing themes related to freedom, immigration, and urban-rural politics. His work has been shown in different context and countries. He also works in collaboration with art collectives in New York and Quito.


Noelle Ghousseini webNoelle Ghoussaini creates theatrical events dedicated to examining and re-imagining our society within a political, social and historical context. Her works have been staged at theatres, living rooms, gardens and other site-specific locations throughout NYC and worldwide. She received her Masters from NYU in Arts Politics and her BA from Northwestern in Performance Studies. She is currently adapting a play for a skateboard park and teaching playwriting and theatre with youth throughout New York City.

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