BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE
Students from all schools in Qatar, participated in an art competition organised by Mathaf, the results of which were exhibited at the museum.
The bare white background of Mathaf: the Arab museum of Modern Art exploded with vibrant colours as students from 39 schools in Qatar arrived at the museum to have a look at their work that was exhibited for the first time within a museum. From the black and white chess board with the three dimensional pawns tumbling down to abstract work by three students to a beautiful representation of the country in black and white, the paintings and the sculpture exhibited were a testimony that there was no dearth of young talent within the country.
The exhibition represented work by 364 students from 39 different schools from across Qatar. According to Maral Bedoyan, Head of Education, Mathaf had planned the competition hoping that students would really wow them if given the time and encouragement to create art, and it was nice to see that belief confirmed.
“We purposely chose an open theme, black and white, because we wanted teachers and students to interpret and respond in their own way,” she says.
And the students did interpret it in different ways with many exploring different mediums to reflect the theme, like a dress that was made of all the waste materials, the cds and newspaper. It helped that the material used was black and white. Another interesting exhibit was a camel made in wood and painting white with black and white paper frills thrown on it with message welcoming people to Qatar.
Like us, Bedoyan cannot choose favourites. She says: “I think there is something to admire in all of the works we selected. A message we strive to get across every year is that we value process and depth over perfection. We ask students to submit
statements about their work every year, and the statements tell you a lot: some students researched social issues or artists, some explored formal techniques, and others talked about personal struggles. Speaking as an educator, the works closest to my heart are the ones where students demonstrate critical thought, passion and hard work. Work where I can see that some kind of journey is taking place in the student's mind.”
While these works of art were chosen from an array of talent from each school, the judges, according to Bedoyan had a difficult task at hand, “I think the judges were spoilt for choice this year, and that's a wonderful problem to have. I hope students who weren't selected view this year as a learning experience and submit work to future competitions,” she says.
Mathaf has always reached out to students from schools through its education programme all of which are very inter active in their approach, the goal of this outreach programme was to create more opportunities for children to explore, create and in the end find their individual voices.
“We also hope to build stronger relationships with teachers and schools in Qatar, and to have conversations about how we can support art education in the schools,” says Bedoyan.
What seems most exciting of this project is that next year it might grow bigger than what it is now as Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani expressed a strong interest in taking the Student Art Exhibition beyond the museum's walls and to display winning works in public spaces