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Amna Yandarbin

We asked special guests to choose a student whose work must be highlighted, whose talents they want to share with the world and whose names we’ll all soon know in Qatar.

Discover urban strategist Jason Twill's pick!

Yolkkh – The Story of My People

Folklore, myth and legend often spring from stories rooted in historic events. Yolkkh is a project designed to tell a story—my story and the story of the Noxci people. It takes the form of silk headscarves, each one illustrating a specific scene and moment in time. Noxci are the people who Russians refer to as, “Chechens;” a label picked up by the Western media. As a Muslim, I have witnessed the way the Western media tends to dehumanize my community. By telling the story of my family I seek to counteract Islamophobic tendencies and engender empathy. The story of my family highlights efforts to preserve our native Noxci identity, despite the most painful events, including war, migration, violence and death.

The visual story begins with my mother’s childhood. As the narrative reaches its climax, the focus shifts from my mother’s experience to my own, depicting scenes from my childhood and continuing through to visions of my future. Through this project I seek to give a voice to the Noxci community and to spread awareness. Furthermore, I wish to inspire other minority cultures worldwide—oppressed victims of racism and colonization—to stand up and share their stories. Yolkkh posits storytelling as a way to inform and connect with audiences in powerful, empathetic and inherently human ways.

This project marks the beginning of my journey as a designer-activist, committed to giving voice to minorities worldwide, regardless of faith. I start by telling my story, hoping that others will follow.


Jason Twill

With a career spanning over 22 years’ in climate change, education, sustainability and urban development, Jason Twill has been at the forefront of social, ecological, and economic transformation. A globally recognised leader in sustainability, creative city making, impact investing, and social justice, Jason’s work is advancing next generation solutions to reverse global warming and restore planetary health. His career experience includes managing multiple award-winning urban regeneration projects throughout North America and Asia Pacific, serving as a world change advisor to Paul G. Allen, serving as Head of Sustainability for Lendlease Australia and consulting local and national governments on developing and implementing climate action and social equity strategies.

Jason is currently serving as Director, World Cup Master Program at the Qatar Foundation where he is leading the Foundation’s sustainability and legacy objectives pertaining to the country’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Jason is a regular lecturer at multiple universities across the globe and previously served as a Runstad Fellow at the University of Washington and Research Innovation Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney where he led research into regenerative urbanism, housing affordability, and indigenous knowledge solutions to address climate change.

He is a co-founder of both the International Living Future Institute and the Green Sports Alliance, was designated a LEED Fellow by the United States Green Building Council in 2014 and named a 2015 and 2017 Next City Global Urban Vanguard. He is a member of the Climate Reality Project (2009 cohort), a former advisor to the Clinton Climate Initiative, a National Advisory Committee member of the Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind and Behaviour Project and Advisory Board member for the International Living Future Institute. Jason recently joined the board of the Cloudburst Foundation and is a strategic advisor to Common Earth, an initiative led by the Commonwealth of Nations to reverse global warming through regenerative development.



About the Selected Project: 'Yolkkh – The Story of My People'

This piece immediately commands the attention of the viewer given the striking colors and patterns that evoke an almost Hermes style to them. This ephemeral surface-level curiosity quickly transitions, however, as the viewer is pulled into a deeper story of colonization, family, conflict, loss, refugeeism, and cultural identity. The artist strikes a delicate balance between sharing a very personal life story, representative of the story and plight of her people, and gives the viewer a sense that producing this work was a healing process in itself. The scarves themselves are attractive and functional, and beautifully represent storytelling and activism through fashion.

The artist strikes a delicate balance between sharing a very personal life story representative of the story and plight of her people and gives the viewer a sense that producing this work was a healing process in itself.

Jason Twill, Urban Strategist, World Cup Doha, Qatar Foundation, VCUarts Qatar
Urban strategist Jason Twill, ©Jason Twill
Amna Yandarbin, 'Yolkkh – The Story of My People', MFA in Design, 2021 ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

The Master of Fine Arts in Design at VCUarts Qatar is a two-year graduate degree in applied interdisciplinary design research. We train students to understand audiences, collaborators and clients in original and authentic ways, combining aspects of fine art studio practice, graphics, digital craft, architecture, fashion and product design, to form a hybridized education.

Designers, increasingly, need to navigate between and blend disciplines, maximizing resources and working adaptively to create new environments, visuals, messaging and products. Our program’s strength lies in its ability to support each student’s unique interests, providing a custom education, tailored to each individual.

Ahmed Nour
Amna Sana
Amna Yandarbin
Nada Abarra
Nada Raafat Elkharashi
Nia Alexander Campbell
Yeon Geong Hwang

Rab McClure, Director
Robert Bianchi, Marco Bruno, Stella Colaleo, Reema Abu Hassan, Giovanni Innella, Yasmeen Suleiman and Michael Wirtz

Amna Yandarbin, 'Yolkkh – The Story of My People', MFA in Design, 2021 ©Amna Yandarbin, VCUarts Qatar

Rab McClure, Department Director

Yolkkh — The Story of My People, by Amna Yandarbin, is a project of undeniable presence and gravity. Combining digital and hand-drawn illustrations on silk, these eleven scarves employ a paradoxically light and delicate material to relate a decidedly heavy and harrowing tale of displacement, relocation, loss, disorientation, adaptation and perseverance. The individual scarves are rich with color, detail, variety and ingenuity; they demand our attention and steadfastly hold it. The hauntingly beautiful illustrations illuminate the destructive power of humanity’s worst impulses, while also—ultimately—offering solace and hope, celebrating the power of family, cultural bonds, community, raw truth and activism.

Exhibition View, BFA + MFA 2021 ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

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