UAE: Artists celebrate spirit of womanhood

A creative dialogue between eight female artists, a female author and a female art curator, uniting the creative women who choose to support each other


Purva Grover

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Published: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 6:21 PM

Often, the month of March is labelled as the arty month in the city. Creative communities come together to celebrate all things artistic and also make the most of the last few days of good weather. March is also special for we celebrate the women of the land all through the month. One such ongoing exhibition, which opened on International Women’s Day, is a creative dialogue between eight female artists, a female art curator, and a female author, the latter being yours truly. My latest and third book, She, explores what it is like being a woman. In the pages of the book, we celebrate waxing woes and bad hair days, we tick the boxes and break the rules, and we apologise for getting old and feeling guilty when promoted at work.

As an author, I was always curious to see how my words would look on canvas, and so when I met up with art curator Slava Noor, we knew what we’d do next. Slava, who has curated multiple exhibitions in the past and launched popular projects like the Art Weekend at XVA, shares why this exhibition is important. “Becoming successful as an emerging female artist can be challenging and I wanted to create a platform for women that would help both to showcase their work and also learn how to take it to the next level. This exhibition aims to create a sense of community which we achieved by holding regular meetings, talks, and ideas exchange.”

Eight women from the UAE with different backgrounds read through the book and created works that reflected their personal stories and day-to-day experience of being a woman. They had the full freedom to interpret their favourite stories or quotes from the book through their personal artistic styles and preferred media. “In my artworks, the women’s eyes are masked,” says Sam (The Sassy Crayon), a UK-born artist. “The reason is that I wear a protective mask every day as a female artist. A mask to protect me from harassment and hate, a mask to empower me, a mask to fight for women. It is my vigilant warrior mask, my get up and go mask. It helps me take on the world. One day I hope I don’t need to wear this mask. But for now, it is a symbol of my fight as a woman.” Indian artist Deepa Gopal adds, “Women are emotional nomads, who steer through different situations adopting and adapting to the changes around us. She is a reminder of that change and the change-bearers, the sufferers and the consolers, the belief and the trust that we hold for one another and the strength we share and impart. She is every one of us.” Pakistani artist Abda Fayyaz sums it up well when she says, “Everything has a purpose, meaning and an important role to play, whether it’s a grain of sand, a drop of water or the entire cosmos — we all are here for a reason through which we all are closely connected, we all are one!”

Indian artist Poonam Chaturvedi believes while living through our different roles daily, we forget ourselves in the process and measure ourselves through the lenses of others. “My works represent the imperfections that define us.” For Indian artist Snehita Gehlot, it was the energy and the organic connection with the subject that drew her to partake. “Everyone walks their own route in their journey, but when you find like-minded people, especially women supporting and rooting for each other, it’s a better and more meaningful journey.” Zumrud Zeynalli, a British artist born in Baku, shares how as a female artist she seeks to express both her personal experiences as well as the two cultures that have influenced her. “It’s time to change the gender imbalance in the art field and I am sure we can achieve it by supporting each other as female artists,” says Zeynalli. For Indian artist Christine Dessa, such collaborations represent the world. “She is essential. She juggles detergents and deadlines. I am She, and this is my voice,” she says. For Indian artist Fatema Fakhruddin, it was the merging of two art forms that attracted her to the exhibit. “My work reflects simply being ourselves is extraordinary, whilst accepting others for who they are.”

I believe both literature and art hold the sheer capacity to build the future, and whilst, I continue to tell stories, in this exhibition we managed to combine colours and words, to tell stories of womanhood.

On till March 30, 2022, Lobby Lounge, Dusit Thani Dubai

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