Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and President of Zayed University, visited, with Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, Vice President of Zayed University, an exhibition of seven students from Zayed University at the new creative destination in Downtown Dubai, ‘The Foundry’. It continues until 7 February.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Emerge V: Don’t Walk Between Columns’, showcases seven unique perspectives inspired by a week-long study trip to Venice in 2019. The seven emerging artists journeyed through the city, taking note of the architectural details of palaces and decorative motifs, then combining them with local Emirati culture, in addition to a modern touch that aligns with their generation, and translating all these components into exceptional artworks.
The story behind the exhibition title goes to the myth of two columns, San Marco and San Teodoro, which stand as the official gateway to the city from the Lagoon into St. Mark’s Square walking into Venice, where the Venetians believed for centuries that walking between the columns brings bad luck.
Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi expressed her appreciation for the unique fusion that the distinct art pieces represented, saying: “The meeting of the two cultures in the artworks shows the extent of cultural harmony between peoples. Our students have highlighted the cultural harmony with fine artistic taste. For instance, we notice the harmony between the Emirati’ burqa’ and the Italian masks that Venice is famous for. The use of the local animal Al Maha as doorknobs in the Venetian doors, as well as the blending between Italian patterns and the adornments in Emirati jewellery design, eloquently symbolise this harmony.”
She further added: “We are proud of the extraordinary work of our students who are able to demonstrate a deep link between nations through meaningful pieces of art.”
Kevin Badni, College of Art and Creative Enterprises (CACE), said: “CACE faculty are strong supporters of ‘study abroad opportunities’ for our Art and Design students. In a globalised, well-connected world, employers increasingly value graduates with international experience. Studying abroad helps our students to appreciate other cultures, experience new perspectives and gain a greater understanding of the world. It is also a two-way street, and our students act as excellent cultural ambassadors in every country they visit.
“ZUUSS is an opportunity to showcase the various ideas developing in CACE; ‘EMERGE V: Don’t Walk Between Columns’ highlights the diversity of approaches of visual art and design students. Exposure to artworks in professional settings has a much bigger impact than studying art history only in the classroom, so we encourage our students to take advantage of the opportunities we can provide them.”
Janet Bellotto, Professor, Visual Arts, CACE commented: “As travelling has always inspired artists to contemplate the world, the artworks in ‘Don’t Walk Between Columns’ are a conversation and contemplation between two cultures. While some focus on the similarities, others are about the experience and growth of what was revealed. Through painting, sculpture and installation, they connect to the craftsmanship of woodwork, the architecture of buildings, the doors of homes, interior textiles and other patterns in daily surroundings.”
Amira Albastaki, Visual Artist, said: “I think that the ‘Don’t Walk Between Columns’ exhibition is quite interesting and important to me as it is the first exhibition I participated in after the breakout of Covid-19. When we were in Venice in 2019, we attended the Venice Biennale, which was entitled ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’, and back then I didn’t think much of the title and unexpectedly, we are truly living in interesting times now. I believe that my work; ‘The End of the Voyage’ taught me simplicity, acceptance, and resilience more than anything else.”
Giuseppe Moscatello, the Cultural Developer / Founder of ‘Foundry’, stressed the importance of supporting the youth: “One of the core missions is to engage and support local organisations and talents. We are very proud to host ZU at Foundry and witness regularly the up and coming creatives graduating from the university. The university has been fostering talent for years, and some of them have already succeeded in the art world.” The participating students are Hassana Arif, with her work entitled ‘Toc-toc’ in which she used ceramics and mixed media, Hessa Al Fahim relied on canvas and oil colours in her artwork ‘Untitled 1 & 2’. Maitha Al Suwaidi used acrylic on wood in her ‘Two Visions’ piece. Malina Server used clay and wires in her work ‘What if’? Rafiaa Hussain used acrylic on boards in her work ‘Untitled’. Amira Al Bastaki relied on cardboard, woollen yarn and steel wire wrapped with textile yarn to create ‘End of the Journey’, and finally, Mouza Al Bedwawi used wood, glass beads and copper in her jewellery design named ‘Sogha’.