Critical Evaluation

Returning to art after an emotionally gruelling period; at the start of this MA I felt a lot of uncertainty about the way forward. To alleviate this, I explored Jeddah in the face of its cultural obstructions for artists. Finding my place here was rather like water wearing away at a stone. Eventually I developed a love for the mosaic art abundant in the region and encountered projects that inspired me to create a meaningful project of my own.

To execute this project I returned to the struggling city of Karachi. Based abroad, the collaborations that helped this project come to life were forged online. But social media was littered with frivolity and artificiality, and people were wholly vested in this universe; it was difficult to break the clutter and generate interest about altruistic projects.

I was rattled by the mob mentality and the extreme curation of reality on social media. My research paper topic evolved from this desire to understand more about the nature of art in the era of digimodernism. Researching for this paper forced me to appreciate both sides of the debate and not disregard the value of this platform. I resolved to continue finding a balance between promoting meaningful dialogue, and gaining exposure.

Throughout Unit 1, I pursued these lines of inquiry in a practical, as well as theoretical way. In studio I fused digital and traditional work to explore contemporary expressions of mosaic art. This was an uphill journey as I was new to Blender, Arduino and Processing. Eventually, I managed to animate my paintings and create an augmented reality exhibit. My initial work was loosely inspired by the vibrant mosaics of Antoni Gaudi, though I also explored the concept of ‘iridescence’ using broken glass.

The profound feedback from Unit 1 helped me understand that validation can only come from ourselves. I embarked on the final projects outlined in my project proposal and realized that my entire practice was a mosaic of equally integral elements. I also discovered the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany and of Arab artists such as Flavie Audi, which sought ‘iridescence’ by fusing glass and metal oxides. With no glassblowing studios in my vicinity, I sought to create similar effects with resin.

For my final show, alongside a silent screening of the videos from my events, and the visual journal that guided my journey, I will be presenting a map of resin squares titled “Constellation”. Abstract sentimental cartography that not only expresses my journey but helps the audience discover their own.

As Unit 2 draws to a close, I have given a lot of thought to future direction. This fall, I will be applying to residencies such as Bulls Eye Project to experiment with glass. Long term, I would prefer to remain in Jeddah, creating ripples of change. To pave the way I have gotten a job at Jeddah’s most prestigious school, to build official connections and curate projects in Jeddah. I am also procuring a studio space, where I plan to work in the evenings to create resin art, hold workshops and create a sense of community; with the hope that, one day, I will expand this studio into a place unique to Jeddah, where artists can find solace and the resources to propel their practice.

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