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.

Qatar Today - - CULTURE> QT TAKE - BY SINDHU NAIR

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

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