Saudi women want to show their art to the worldBy Huda MerchantSaudi Gazette
Saudiaat is a group of talented artists who showcase their artistic abilities every year by mounting exhibitions. The group — composed of Raeda Ashour, Effat Fadaq, Wafa Karsha, Maha Mufti, Wafa Al-Mihdar, Reem Nazir and Ibtisam Rufae — was founded by Samiah Mohammed Khashoggi.
Khashoggi is a Saudi artist and an assistant professor of interior design at Dar Al Hekma (DAH) College. She is also a contributor to the foundational and architectural programs in the Future Center for Ladies, an institute certified by the Inchbald School of Design in the United Kingdom. She graduated from the Kingston University in the UK with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design in 1982 and completed her master’s in fine arts from De Montfort University in 2005.
Upon returning to the Kingdom in 1983, she started working as the first woman designer in her brother’s furniture and design company. She worked there for two years, gaining tremendous experience from handling all female clientele. However, after marriage, her family became her priority and she left designing to start teaching art and design.
Saudiaat was a result of her masteral thesis, for which she had to interview 40 local artists. After the Maybach Hilton Car & Artworks exhibition sponsored by Al Juffali Motors, the Saudiaat Women Artists Group was officially born in 2005.
Khashoggi was influenced by Saudi women who wanted to show their art to the world. “There was a pressing need to create a group that supports all artists in creating a platform to exchange experiences and techniques. It also lifts one from the burden of creating a large amount of artwork. Solo exhibitions can be overwhelming especially to members like myself who have a day jobs. Being in a group allows us to remain in the art arena, showcasing quality rather than quantity of work.”
The objective of Saudiaat was to form a creative environment for Saudi women in the field of art, to educate the general public of various ideas and techniques related to art and to blunt the Western stereotype of Saudi women. So far they have successfully managed to accomplish many of their lofty goals. However, meeting regularly for art workshops remains a challenge because their top priorities remain their families and regular jobs.
The future is bright for Saudiaat as long as members are committed and serious about delivering quality work on time and annually participating in exhibitions. Khashoggi encourages her students and the alumni to befriend the Saudiaat and learn from talented professional artists. In future the group plans to conduct monthly art workshops for young girls. They would also like to hold an art fair where artists from abroad can participate and contribute their work.
The Saudiaat recently held their fourth art exhibition entitled “Directions” at the Rochan Gallery in Jeddah. The name of the exhibit was inspired by the artists’ diverse methods, styles and techniques, as well as themes like identities unveiled, expressions, dialogues and, of course, directions. Khashoggi has also announced the addition of a new member to the group, Ola Hejazi, who will showcase her collection next year. She thanked Dr. Suhair Al Qurashi, president of DAH, for opening “Directions” as well as all DAH faculty members and students for their participation in the exhibition as friends of Saudiaat.