seaf - observations series

observations on food . 2015

observations on food (detail) . 2015

observations on trade . 2015

observations on trade (detail) . 2015

observations on music . 2015

observations on music (detail) . 2015

observations on community . 2015

observations on community (detail) . 2015

observations on faith . 2015

observations on faith (detail) . 2015

observations on trade t-shirt . 2015

observations series . 2015

observations series (process) . 2015

observations series (presentation) . 2015

observations series original sketches . 2015

the moment's finally here where i get to blog about one of the most life changing experiences i've had over the last year. for those of you who don't know, i have graduated as a fellow from the 2014-2015 edition of the sheikha salama bint hamdan al nahyan foundation's emerging artists fellowship program (seaf). the fellowship is in collaboration with the foundation and the rhode island school of design (risd). it was a long year filled with so many laughs, tears, learning and love.
in late 2014, a group of quirky emerging artists were selected and came together to begin their year long journey through the fellowship. the program focused on developing an artist's studio practice through workshops, mentoring, creative assignments, readings and an unforgettable trip to new york city and the risd campus in providence, rhode island. another key component at the end of the fellowship is a potential scholarship to study masters abroad, if one completes the fellowship successfully. it was great to be back in an environment that was open to creative freedom and experimentation. it very much felt like being back in university and was the breath of fresh air i needed in my creative practice outside my full time job.
i will share my experiments and assignments over the year in another post. for here, i wanted to share the final project i worked on over the last few months of the fellowship, just after coming back from our study trip. each fellow had to work on a body of work which we presented during the final teaching week of the fellowship. i wish i could show everyone's final projects because each of the fellows had created some amazing works.
for my body of work, i wanted to continue my exploration around communities and their subcultures, find personal connections in these areas, and create a visual dialogue. the areas i specifically focus on are old, forgotten areas in the city i live in (such as deira and the surrounding vicinity), which in the past was dubai's city center, and are still very much alive till today. only time will tell how long these areas will survive, and their communities forced out for ugly, vulgar real estate projects, which is the common case here.
the body of work, titled 'observations', visually showcases my interactions in these areas; from personal observations, to interactions with the communities found. the work is a series of illustrated narratives screen printed onto five plain textiles purchased from these areas that communicate observations on food, trade, music, community and faith. 'observations' is an investigation that speaks both on a personal level of my experiences in these areas, and emphasizes their importance. i hope the messages conveyed are universal to people facing similar problems of disappearing communities in mega cities such as dubai.
along with the final textiles, my presentation of the work included photographs of the textiles documented in the researched areas, bringing them back to where it all started and seeing what new interactions i might encounter when people from the community see me holding vibrant pieces of fabrics in the middle of the streets! another add-on to my presentation was a t-shirt i tailored from extra fabric i printed of 'observations on trade'. all can be seen in the images above.
i can't begin to describe what an amazing experience the fellowship has been. i've definitely grown as an artist and am inspired to keep on creating, work on new projects, and continue to grow as an artist. i've been doing this for quite some time now, and the fellowship has encouraged me to take the next steps to moving forward in my artistic career. also, i think i'm ready to pursue graduate studies so stay tuned. one can never predict what the future holds. but i hope my future includes an ongoing artistic practice, recognition in the local creative community, and giving back to the city (and country) i call home.
a few thank yous are in order so please bear with me. to the salama foundation, thank you for the opportunity and including me in the second cohort of fellows. the experience you gave me is indescribable and unforgettable. i have changed as an artist and human being. khulood, shamma and kyle, you're all one of a kind. to the risd faculty both in abu dhabi and providence, thank you for your honesty, motivation and inspiration. i learnt so much from all of you.
a thank you goes to tashkeel, for providing me with time out of the office and studio support to work on the fellowship. thank you to my amazing nephew humaid for being my assistant during the last few weeks and helping out with screen printing the final fabrics. thank you to my dear friend zahra, who made time in her busy schedule to be my photographer for the day documenting the fabrics back in old dubai. to my friends and family, thank you for your patience and support, and understanding for when i occasionally distanced myself to focus on the fellowship. i promise to make it up to you.
lastly, a thank you goes to my fellows – azim, alaa, hadeyeh, maitha, mays, moza, reem, saeed, saif, talin and vikram. you have been the best group anyone can ask for. i can't thank you enough for your friendships. i will never forget this moment we shared. and i hope we grow to become the best artists we can possibly be. i love you all.

the fellows . 2015 (photo courtesy of saeed khalifa)