Art on the Avenue
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Art on the Avenue

300 artists, including budding art merchant Noura Barka, will be at this year’s Art on the Avenue.

Noura Barka and her handmade art will be at Art on the Avenue in Del Ray Saturday, Oct. 2.

Noura Barka and her handmade art will be at Art on the Avenue in Del Ray Saturday, Oct. 2.

What did you do with all the downtime you had on your hands during quarantine in 2020? Maybe you trained a new puppy. Maybe you learned to

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Noura Barka and her handmade art will be at Art on the Avenue in Del Ray Saturday, Oct. 2.

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Grace Barrett and her Harry Potter inspired magic wands.

cook. Perhaps you even started a new exercise routine. Or, like many others, you might have just laid low and recharged in anticipation of “normal.”

If you ask eleven-year-old Noura Barka what she did with all the time she had on her hands in 2020, she’d tell you she leveraged those hands in a big way – to create all kinds of crafts and artwork. She will be selling a lot of her productions at Art on the Avenue, a multicultural arts and music festival that will take place in Alexandria’s historic Del Ray neighborhood on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Noura, a sixth grader at Stratford Landing Elementary School, has actually been preparing for this moment since before the world’s period of quarantine, and she can’t wait to show off what she’s been working on.

“My family used to go to Art on the Avenue every year, and I always thought it would be really cool if I was there, selling stuff in the tents,” Noura said. “I was so excited when I found out I’d be a part of it all, and I’ve been preparing for this all year. It’s been especially great because my best friend [Grace Barrett, classmate at Stratford Landing Elementary School] has been part of the process, too.”

THIS YEAR marks the 26th annual Art on the Avenue, an event to “celebrate the community’s diversity through the arts.” Organizers are expected more than 50,000 people to attend this event, where they are greeted by more than 300 artists, musicians, and food vendors.

Noura and her friend Grace Barrett will share a booth, and they are two of the three young artists selected to have their own booths at this year’s Art on the Avenue.

As a budding artist and merchant, Noura has made a number of items to sell including greeting cards and an assortment of clay figurines.

“I’ve been getting ready for this all year, and I’m really prepared and excited,” Noura said. “I’ll have clay ‘good luck’ ladybugs, fall pumpkin broaches, and trays. I’ve also been making lip gloss, lip scrub, soaps, and paint that is made of flowers. I will have a mini-art gallery including Mexican folk art and painted rocks. Then Grace has been making these cool wands.”

Grace Barrett’s handmade wands really are something special.

“A few years ago I got into the Harry Potter books and looked online at tutorials for how to make Harry Potter themed decor,” Barrett said. “I liked making the wands best. They take a lot of work, but they look authentic when they are done. The two models I will have at the booth have become my most popular ones. No matter what, I’m so excited to have a booth at the Del Ray Art on the Avenue because it feels like a professional event. This is a huge honor and I hope we get to do more in the future."

Noura and Grace will be showcasing their crafts from a booth that Noura has named Tezukuri.

“She’s a huge fan of Japanese manga [graphic novels and comic books], and ‘Tezukuri’ is the Japanese word for handmade,” said Noura’s mother Sonia Campos.

Campos has watched in amazement over the last year and a half as her daughter has churned out so many fantastic pieces, turning her pandemic downtime into creative opportunity.

“It seems like she wants to create something new every couple of days,” Campos said. “It’s incredible to me [an artist myself] how much inspiration and motivation she has. She was actually selected for last year’s virtual Art on the Avenue but was unable to take part. So this year is really special. She was chosen to participate through a jury selection, and she’s only one of three youngsters participating with their own booths.”

Being selected to showcase her work at Art on the Avenue is only part of what makes the 11-year-old Noura pleased with her art journey.

“I’m really happy about how far I’ve come in the last couple years with my art,” she said. “My style has changed for the better. It’s definitely become more unique. I’d never made anything with clay, and I’d never made soaps, but during COVID, I saw some people do it and I thought, ‘why don’t I do it?’ Grace has done the wands and helped with the cards, which has been great, because she loves art and she’s my best friend.”

Noura’s favorite pieces to craft have definitely been the greeting cards, which she predicts will be her hottest selling items.

To learn more about Art on the Avenue, visit www.artontheavenue.org. To see Noura Barka and Grace Barrett at the event, be sure to visit the ‘Tezukuri’ tent. Tezukuri Art: W 51 (Between E. Custis & E. Windsor) off of Mount Vernon Avenue.

cook. Perhaps you even started a new exercise routine. Or, like many others, you might have just laid low and recharged in anticipation of “normal.”

If you ask eleven-year-old Noura Barka what she did with all the time she had on her hands in 2020, she’d tell you she leveraged those hands in a big way – to create all kinds of crafts and artwork. She will be selling a lot of her productions at Art on the Avenue, a multicultural arts and music festival that will take place in Alexandria’s historic Del Ray neighborhood on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Noura, a sixth grader at Stratford Landing Elementary School, has actually been preparing for this moment since before the world’s period of quarantine, and she can’t wait to show off what she’s been working on.