“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
– Pablo Picasso
On 11th March, four budding artists who were enrolled in the intensive International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBO DP) at the American International School of Kuwait (AIS) had the opening of their Visual Arts exhibition. This year’s exhibition was titled ‘Ward Al Funoon’, which translates to ‘Flower of Art’ in Arabic, and was the outcome of the students’ two-years of work, which once again, impressed everyone.
Aptly titled, the exhibition described the process of growth and development of each student. Whilst creating the pieces, the students – Ensaf Al Matrook, Hanan Abdullatif, Rozali Abouchakra and Yasmin Hdaib – were personally attached to the development of their conceptual ideas, which consequently led to an understanding of their own identity in a deeper way. The exhibition featured over 50 exciting and thought-provoking artworks, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, digital media and installations. Needless to say, the opening was a huge success with many VIPs attending to compliment and praise the students’ efforts.
But while the artworks reflected each artist capabilities, the themes chosen by the youngsters were anything but ‘flowery’ in context. Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is quoted to have said: “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” The impact of social, personal and current political issues was evident throughout the students’ body of work. Their collective body of work expressed through mixed media their inner turmoil, social imagery, typical age-related issues and geo-political environment.
According to one visitor, Tammy Asad, some of the exhibited works were ‘quiet moving’. “I must say that, Egypt, Silent Scream and Hypocrisy were the pieces that spoke to me. I actually got goose bumps when I was looking at them.”
The students evidently researched extensively and experimented with various form of art. In choosing a myriad of themes and media, each of them was seeking to express both their inner voice and view-points through art.
Ensaf Al Matrook searched for the reason behind her silence. In her own words, ‘she hid within herself for a long time in fear of being judged’. Art gave her a much needed outlet. Hanan Abdullatif is hugely influenced by controversial Kuwaiti artist, Shurooq Amin, and one look at her artwork will tell you as much. Talking about her art, Hanan explained, “My work is divided into three sections: Political, moral social and personal reflection section. Not surprisingly, through my research, I found that the media had the greatest influence. It dictates human behavior; telling us how to look, talk and act, leading to conformity and loss of identity and originality.”
Rozali Abouchakra’s body of work, titled Passion, displayed strong views using layering mixed media ‘to emphasize the reality of emotional damage in a human being’. “The reason why my artworks are mainly large scale is because it has the greatest impact on the audience,’ wrote the young artist in her statement.
Yasmin Hdaib’s entire artwork was a series of ‘phases’ of her own experience through high school featured through water color, pastels and pencil drawings. “I also expressed this concept through colors to reflect emotions and chaos,” explained Yasmin, adding, “This course was a great challenge that really allowed me to overcome and explore many things in life and I’m proud of the results.”
IBO DP Program
The IBO DP in Visual Arts is a rigorous two-year investigation of art making, art criticism and art history. The exhibition has been an annual process ever since the program was authorized into AIS in 1996. Its main purpose is to showcase and celebrate the work of the senior students. During the course, students engage in conceptual thinking and structural analysis of their own work and the work of other artists. They also work on developing their technical skills across a variety of media.
“I always encourage and engage my students in working outside of their comfort zone and prompt them to think deep and justify their artistic intentions. To create an artwork with a purpose, function and significance,” commented Angie Hani, the program’s Visual Arts teacher.
Stressing further the intensity of the program, Angie explained, “Our Diploma program is equivalent to first year university degree in Fine Arts.” As a result of the program’s constant emphasis on excellence, student who graduate DP Visual Arts program are thoroughly equipped for university level study, should they chose to pursue a career in arts. In fact, last year, AIS Visual Arts DP students were the top 5 percent of the world ranking.
On a side note, during our conversation I learned that Angie Hani was a ‘dedicated fan and collector’ of bazaar. She has collected every issue of the magazine since 1999! “Every month I pick three copies,” she said, excitedly, “One for my sister, one for AIS and one for myself!” There’s nothing better than being admired by an artist.
You can view the artworks or stay updated on Instagram.