Nine students selected by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation take part in its Explorations in the Arts programme this summer.
Omar Ali Al Zaabi dreams of bringing art and the desert together. He dreams of the UAE pushing its creativity beyond borders, away from clichés.
"We went to Louisiana museum and it was mind blowing! They create art with nature! Why can't we do that here? Okay, we don't have the lush green environment here, but we can do it with the desert,” said Omar.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark is famous not only for its contemporary art exhibits, but also for its architecture and landscapes.
"We can use art not just in nature, but we can engage with it. Art should not be just to look at, we should make use of it as well. We could have, for example, a sculpture in the form of a child's swing that can actually be used as a swing, not just placed somewhere to be looked at. I would love to become a manager of such projects,” went on Omar.
Omar is a student of applied media at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and was one of the nine students selected by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation to take part in its Explorations in the Arts programme this summer.
A career in art is not reduced to becoming a successful artist. It can mean an art critic, a curator, an art gallery manager or even a representative of an arts and culture government office. This is what Omar and his fellow students learnt in the past three months.
Launched in 2013, the foundation sent 10 talented high school students to Japan to learn the various aspects of art.
This year, Explorations in Arts became a lot more elaborate.
"We wanted older students as they are more aware of what they want for their future career, and we added two more components to the programme,” explained Khulood Al Atiyat, manager of arts, culture and heritage at Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
The programme started in June with visits to art galleries and organisations in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, where they learnt about curating art exhibitions and managing art galleries. In July, they took part in a month-long internship at an art organisation in the UAE, and in August they travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark, for six days, where they visited about 10 art galleries and museums.
"My favourite part of the programme is that I got to see the difference between the UAE and Denmark when it comes to art. In the UAE, art is very secluded, almost hidden from the public. In Copenhagen, art is everywhere — in museums, in parks, in cafes — nobody seems intimidated by going to a museum or getting involved in art,” said Sheikha Fahed Al Ketbi, a visual arts student at Zayed University.
"If I get to work in this field, I want to bring that art cosiness here,” she added.
For Hend Salem Al Suwadi, an applied media student at HCT, another of the nine selected participants, Copenhagen was a great experience, but her favourite part was the lectures, visits and internship back home. "I want to know what goes on in the UAE. I know about the art projects on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, but not about Dubai and Sharjah. After visiting several galleries in Dubai and the Sharjah Art Foundation and Sharjah Museum, I got to understand the bigger picture,” said Hend.
The programme will be back next year, when the Foundation is planning to take its students to the museums and art galleries of Berlin.
Source: Khaleej Times