The work of seven graphic design students from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) – a partner university of the Qatar Foundation – was on display at ‘Cultural Fusion’, an exhibition for commemorate the Qatar-USA Year of Culture 2021 held at the ART29 gallery, recently.
Roudah Al-Sheeb, Ghada Ali, Naima Almajdobah, Hagar Allam, Sara AlHelal, Hannah Fakhri and Razan Khalid Mustafa have created an immersive sensory journey through the icons and ideals that define and unite the cultures of Qatar and the United States. The entire exhibition was led by students and co-organized by one of the exhibitors, Fakhri, and another graphic design student, Fatima Nazir.
The individual exposure of each student could not have been more varied in its theme and approach. Hagar Allam’s work titled “Celebrating Unity” consisted of photos depicting iconic architectural sites in Qatar and the United States, while Razan Khalid Mustafa’s “Cultural Closet” depicted the similarities and differences in fashion styles of people residing in both countries, especially their shared affinity for streetwear. In “Greetings from Qatar and USA” Sara AlHelal playfully combined symbolic online images of the two countries to literally bring two countries together in a satirical way.
Roudah Al-Sheeb’s “Walls and Fences” captured architectural styles in the United States and Qatar through a comparison of walls and fences commonly found in the two countries. Hannah Fakhri’s “Fusion Signs” was an original take on vintage and contemporary store signs in Qatar and the United States, and Ghada Ali’s “Lucent” was inspired by neon lights from the United States and the city of Doha. A combination of the English word “culture” and the Arabic word “na” which indicates ownership of a thing, formed the title “Culturna”, the digital signage designed by Naima Almajdobah.
The event brought together dignitaries from home and abroad, including Dr. Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia; Amir Berbić, Dean, VCUarts Qatar; Dominic Genetti, President, ExxonMobil Qatar; Nicolas Pearce, Joint Venture Asset Manager, ExxonMobil Qatar; Samantha Jackson, Head of Public Diplomacy, US Embassy, Doha; Ahmad Musa Al-Namla, CEO, Qatar Museums (QM); and Aisha Al Attiya, Culture Years Manager, QM.
Dean Berbić captured the spirit of celebration, and the mood of creativity and inspiration that was palpable for everyone that evening, when he said: “I want to congratulate our graphic design students for their work. incredible that reflects the essence of relationships. between Qatar and the United States. They put their time, talent and energy into forms and images that show the fusion of two cultures; a merger that is fully manifested in the presence and influence of VCUarts Qatar in this country. This exhibition – like our university – is a perfect example of the power to bring cultures together through collaboration in art, design and innovation.
The Qatar-USA Year of Culture 2021 is part of Years of Culture, a cultural program organized by QM to celebrate the ties between Qatar and another country chosen for a specific year. Throughout the year, a variety of exhibitions, festivals, competitions and events mark the relations between the two countries, providing the public with the opportunity to explore and appreciate the similarities and differences between cultures.