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المعارض والفعاليات

Noof Alkhenji &
Ghada Al-qashouti

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 curator and designer Bahia Shehab's pick!

Noof Alkhenji and Ghada Al-qashouti Graphics Middle East Emerging

Color Speak

Colors Speak is a Graphic Design research exploration that seeks to both decode and give a name to the colors of the Abaya. It is an open conversation on color. What do the Abaya colors mean? A woman’s choice of color when wearing an Abaya communicates a wide range of oftentimes emotional meanings: from playful freedom to traditional respect.

The Abaya is an ancient garment that goes back thousands of years. The main purpose of the Abaya today is for a woman to protect herself from both unwanted attention and also for religious and cultural respect. While the black Abaya has been worn in Muslim countries for many generations, recently more and more colors have been introduced which some people are still not familiar with or even comfortable with.

Using data collected from surveys and questionnaires from people in both the university and the general public, Colors Speak culminates in a regionally specific collection of newly named color swatches for the Abaya. This project rebrands color while highlighting and celebrating the growing range of the available Abaya. The goal of this research is to decode and identify the emotional meaning of the Abaya wearer in public. The Abaya Color Swatches give meaning and serve as a guide to understanding Qatari women and the daily choices we face in public.

Our Life is a Game حياتنا لعبة

Our Life is a Game responds to the role of women in Qatari society, asking how design and design activism — particularly through humour and play — can bring to light delicate and difficult topics to trigger insight and societal reflection. Societies around the world have viewed women as something inferior on and off again for millennia. Today, not only specific cultural traditions but also contemporary global media continue to perpetuate gender stereotypes without understanding women and their feelings within specific contexts. By exploring the power of games and dark humour within design, I aim to shed light on the role of the female in society—highlighting the marital traditions and daily life tasks—from a Qatari woman’s perspective. Our Life is a Game hopes to focus, question, and make the role of chance in the life of Qatari women visible through sarcasm and dark humour.

Bahia Shehab

Bahia Shehab is an artist and author based in Cairo. She is Professor of design and founder of the graphic design program at The American University in Cairo. Her work has been exhibited internationally and has received a number of international awards including the BBC’s 100 women’s list, a TED Senior Fellowship, a Prince Claus Award, and the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. She is the founding director of TypeLab@AUC. Her latest publications include You Can Crush the Flowers: A Visual Memoir of the Egyptian Revolution and the award winning co-authored book A History of Arab Graphic Design.

Both projects highlight women’s rights and freedom in choosing what fits them as individuals. Whether it is as simple as choosing the color of the dress you want to wear or as complex as choosing your life partner.

About the Selected Projects: 'Color Speak' and Our Life is a Game

Color Speak is an insight on how dress color control can influence the lives of women in societies in the Arabian Gulf. Noof grew up wearing a black abaya all her life, in her project she explored the meaning of wearing color and how that reflects on the psychology of the women who wear it. The names of her color swatches reflect empowerment and a beautiful confirmation that color has the power to liberate. The simplicity of the idea would pass unnoticed if you did not know that historically color was used to divide social classes with ruling classes banning the masses from wearing the color purple in ancient Rome or that peasants in some medieval societies were only allowed to wear brown. During her senior jury presentation Noof wore a green abaya signifying “Finally Free” according to her color system. We rarely get the chance to witness the individual freedom of people we encounter by chance and I am humbled by the fact that I got to see Noof wear a color of her choice in public for the first time in her life.

Our Life is a Game criticizes how society perceives marriage and women in Qatari society. In her witty display, women become labelled wooden toys devoid of life or choice. Her presentation of such a complex social system in a humorous and lighthearted, but at the same time very insightful way, reveals how some women are objectified and commodified like the toys she represented. Her project is critical of the lack of freedom of choosing a life and love partner and how society labels women based on their external looks, their age, their social background but not on who they are as humans.

Both projects highlight women’s rights and freedom in choosing what fits them as individuals. Whether it is as simple as choosing the color of the dress you want to wear or as complex as choosing your life partner.

Bahia Shehab Portrait © Bahia Shehab.
Noof Alkhenji, ‘Color Speak,’ Graphic Design 2022
Noof Alkhenji, ‘Color Speak’ Project Detail, Graphic Design 2022 © Nic van der Bijl, VCUarts Qatar.
Ghada Al-qashouti, ‘Our Life is a Game,’ Graphic Design 2022 © Nic van der Bijl, VCUarts Qatar.
The Graphic Design at VCUarts Qatar plays a dynamic role in the region through education and research focused on cultural production, social innovation, and the preservation and development of typographic cultural heritage. Our graduates have collaborated and explored a range of tools, materials and modes of making to develop extra-disciplinary creative practices capable of reimagining design’s role in society.

We are proud to introduce to you the class of 2022: a group of empowered creative citizens, cultural participants and radical forces who will creatively impact our world.

Abdul Rahman Hatib
Alhanoof Abdulla
Fatima Aldosari
Fatima Ramzan
Gayatri Maelathil
Ghada Al-Qashouti
Ghada Ali
Hagar Allam
Hala Alghanim
Hannah Fakhri
Mashael Al Baker
Mohamed Nasser
Naima Almajdobah
Noof Alkhenji
Noor Abdulrazzaq Abdulwahab Razan Mustafa
Roudah Alsheeb
Sara AlHelal
Sherifa Eletrebi

Faculty: Astrid Kensinger, Chair
Maryam Al-Homaid, Law Alsobrook, Denielle Emans, Basma Hamdy, Levi Hammett, Michael Hersrud, Leland Hill and Peter Martin
Adjunct Faculty: Pornprapha Phantanteacha, Mariam Rafehi and Bahia Shehab

Exhibition View, Graphic Design 2022 © Nic van der Bijl, VCUarts Qatar.

Astrid Kesinger, Department Chair

Our two brilliant Curator’s Picks truly represent excellence in the kind of design that also blurs art and life. Both Noof and Ghada stood out this year for pursuing complex research topics that dug very deep into cultural literacy. They both were tireless in their pursuit of making and in seeking collaborative insight in their research process. They pushed into new territories of making while staying clearly focused on meaningful messaging. We are very proud to highlight these two powerful designers and are deeply grateful to Bahia for her nominations. Choosing two projects is never easy when there are so many outstanding projects, and I wish to congratulate every GDES senior of 2022. Bravo.

The RAW Talent

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