A native of Jordan, Khaled Mahd came to Boston University just last month after completing his undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at Indiana State University in Terra Haute, IN. Originally an engineering student, this scientist-turned-graphic artist brings a talent for graphic design and vivid photography to the CFA graduate program. Khaled submitted his photo Gluttony #1, which is part of a 14-part exhibition on the seven deadly sins called Elementum that was originally shown in Terra Haute, IN.
Quad: What inspired the exhibition?
Khaled Mahd: The entire exhibition, actually, was conceived on a smaller scale for graphic design class back at Indiana State University. The program in my previous University was very commercial, and I asked my professor if I could do something a little more conceptual. It’s still a realistic depiction, and these turned out to be very marketable photos, but the entire idea was that I don’t want to do a project for corporate use or to promote something. So, the idea developed to become an exhibition. I took it further, I did lots of the costume design for the exhibition and the makeup sketching.
This photo is named after gluttony, but the model is almost seductive in this pose, not grotesque at all.
The idea of this show is that the seven deadly sins have all been bad things that people always commit and hide, or feel and hide. The idea for this show with this glamorous makeup and exotic outfit is basically to glorify the seven deadly sins and think of them as more of a positive channel of self expression. So, they still look dangerous and they still look threatening, but at the same time it’s like an alter ego for the models or for whoever is looking at them. They’re so beautiful and they’re so attractive to a point that people want to look like them. So the fact that they are this gorgeous and this flamboyant overshadows the fact that they are sins and they’re supposed to be hidden.
What is the model doing in this photo?
She’s crouching. The idea of the pose and this perspective, it’s a little bit distorted, so she looks larger on the front, and that way the photo looks a little bit more confrontational and more threatening. She’s looking at something outside the photo, at something she’s going to attack. This is the gluttony concept of it.
Talk about the production that goes into a photo like this.
The lighting was pretty dramatic, but it was retouched in Photoshop. The color saturation was all photoshop-made, but the basic colors and basic lighting was actually there. Lots of the shadow were painted on her fingers to make her look more grotesque. On the face, I lost some detail for the sake of shadow, which was a good thing.
Any plans to bring these photos back out?
This exhibition is called Elementum, and I’m trying to get it to have more exposure here in Boston.
In addition to photography, Khaled also does illustration and graphic design. His online portfolio can be found here.