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Sara Mohammad

Art History, Valedictorian

Interview

April 2021

Approaching life
with this aim of discovery

Who you are and where you’re from?
My name is Sara Mohammad, and I am a student at VCUarts Qatar and I am currently living and staying in Qatar.

What made you decide to follow a career in the creative arts?
You call it creative arts. I have a lot of ways of describing my major, it’s art history. It’s just a field that is so comprehensive. It is so exciting and it involves a lot of discussions about culture, about people, about identity and about art; but also, about history and all its ups and downs, but from exciting perspectives. And I get to delve into narratives and stories every single day. 

When you discuss art history, it is about the art. It is about the history, but it's really about the people.

Sara Mohammad

And do you think that needs any more explanation?
When I study, I get to research, read, watch documentaries or videos, along with listening to my lectures. With this sort of excitement there is always something there. When you discuss art history, it is about the art. It is about the history, but it’s really about the people. About how really connected individuals are, across time and space. To me, it’s utterly fascinating because my real passion is writing and research. So, it made sense for me to be here.

Illustration by Zainab Al Shibani, 2021 ©Zainab Al Shibani, VCUarts Qatar

Top: Image from 'Lu3’atna' project. Sara Mohammad is one of the five senior students involved in this project that celebrates and promotes Qatari Linguistic Culture through World Cup 2022.
Image from 'Lu3’atna', exhibited at the Project Space. ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

I do delve into Islamic art, into Ottoman art, into Christian art, and Chinese art more recently. And it’s really just the beauty of it. So, I can’t really say I have a particular preference, but, when I actually approached these different geographical areas, different cultures, different time periods, it’s always been the human factor that really interests me.

The individuals themselves, the society, the social science of the art world and the art culture. Almost the psychology, the sociology, even the social sciences. I like to apply these concepts and these theories into art history.

And, the thing is art, doesn’t really just come about it, it doesn’t just happen in isolation of events. It has a long history. It’s complex and there are so many people, not one person, behind it.

There are cultures, there’s contexts you need to consider. So, it’s a sensitive subject for me to just sit here on my laptop and just type words that this artist created this work, because he wanted to say this idea. It doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes I need to put myself in the shoes of the artists. Sometimes I need to put myself in the context of the artists, but then again, that’s always theoretical. I can’t really do that. I always need to consider options and choices. We really just hypothesize and then accept the fact that I can’t really know the whole truth, and that is not always easy.

I am a perfectionist, I want to get to the answer, but in terms of my research and in terms of all the cultures in the art world and the arts cultures of specific movements, I’ve researched or read about, it’s always so complex and so beautiful. The beauty of my major, that I get to experience everything, a little bit of everything good.

Image from 'Lu3’atna', exhibited at the Project Space. ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

The individuals themselves, the society, the social science of the art world and the art culture. Almost the psychology, the sociology, even the social sciences. I like to apply these concepts and these theories into art history.

Sara Mohammad
Image from 'Lu3’atna', exhibited at the Project Space. ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

I’m guessing my passion is discovery. It comes down to discovery and to how you approach research, from my point of view, when you approach writing, when you approach study generally in art history, and when you approach life from this perspective, with this aim of discovery, you live every day to the fullest. 

You live every day, every moment, with excitement You’re always looking and searching for the ‘why’, instead of the ‘what’ or the ‘when’. It’s always the ‘why’ for me, and I guess throughout my life, I’ve always wanted to answer that question, in terms of academia, and in terms of my personal life as well. 

I’ve never really settled for less, have always wanted to know more. I am curious about the world. I want to travel. I want to meet people. I want to discover new things just because I know that the world is so wide, so rich and I don’t want to spend it in one place. I feel that’s one of the saddest things in life; to not be able to discover or to not even want to discover.

Image from 'Lu3’atna', exhibited at the Project Space. ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

I’ve really come to value the importance of sharing. And before coming to VCUarts Qatar, I’ve always been interested in education, and sharing knowledge. I’ve always seen myself as someone who can help others broaden their knowledge, who can inspire them. I’ve always seen myself in academia doing research. 

I’ve always seen myself traveling and where all these things intersect is with art and with culture and with history. So, I’ve always seen myself in the museum field, perhaps, where I can merge together education, arts and culture and not having a desk job. Going into my first year, in Art History I always considered curating. But now that I’m familiar with the field itself. I’m really more interested in the educational aspect. 

So curating is more about, well curating and it does involve education. It does involve research, of course. And I do see myself there and I really want to have the experience one day, but now, it’s more about the education field. So perhaps an educator within the museum field or an educator in a university, in a college, in a school where I’m writing, where I’m doing research, where I am physically teaching. It really just involves me doing more, digging in, doing more research, getting more experience, and then sharing that with others. 

But always something that involves this theme of being excited, it’s really important to me because I’m a person that gets bored so easily. And so, when I stay at one place doing one thing for a prolonged, or even a short period, of time, I can’t handle it. And if I’m staying in one place doing repetitive things, or I’m doing nothing, that’s not the best for me, mentally and emotionally. I’m always wanting to challenge myself. So, if it’s a field that’s crosses all of these things and is also challenging me at the same time, then I am totally in. Something in the museum field or in academia, but you never know.

Image from 'Lu3’atna', exhibited at the Project Space. ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

If I’m able to teach people something, whether that is in academia or even something about life. If I’m able to inspire them in any way or to make positive change in any way, then I’m considering that success. And obviously if these things, give me joy and happiness and inspire me as well.

Insight

I guess you can’t really know the value of something until you miss it and staying at home, for more than a year now, has really taught me that VCUarts Qatar has always been welcoming, has always been supportive and sometimes
I’ve lost sight of that, but being here, online, I’ve felt both the warmth and the support. And they're so encouraging. It’s such a positive community.

Sara Mohammad
Image from 'Lu3’atna', exhibited at the Project Space. ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar
Image from 'Lu3’atna', exhibited at the Project Space. ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

To her youngself

Something I live by right now, and this might sound very simple or even pessimistic is that nothing lasts forever. And that applies to the good and the bad. 

When you’re living in a bad situation, when you’re going through something challenging, something difficult or something that is not so good or not so happy, then just be confident that it won’t last forever. The younger me tended to obsess over things, tended to overdramatize everything and just be so theatrical, sort of “Oh my God, it’s the end of the world.” But honestly, it’s not. And nothing lasts when it’s good. Even if it’s a happy thing, if it’s a good thing, that too won’t last forever. 

But that means that you need to enjoy it at that very moment. I’m so grateful that I know that now and believe that. I need to just live in the moment. I need to enjoy this very moment, being grateful for what I have right now. For what I can accomplish today, and to always be dreaming of doing more. 

I have that power and that is a very strong, powerful, and amazing idea to hold on to. And remembering that nothing bad lasts forever either. And that the good is what I need to cherish and know that better is also going to happen.

ISSUE No.
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The RAW Talent

MAY-AUG
2021
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