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Presenting oneself: AUS students explore the process of moving from palette to painting
Artwork done by Sarah Al-Dulaimi and Razan Hussein, third-year students at the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS), is part of the Summer Painting exhibition at CAAD, which opened on campus yesterday, October 20. Their paintings were produced during the summer Painting with Color course with Phil Sheil, CAAD’s long-term senior lecturer in painting and drawing.
CAAD is well-known for producing some of the region’s most successful architects, designers and design managers, with graduates going on to work in leading design firms, establish their own businesses or continue their studies at the world’s top design schools.
Its programs are also known to be extremely rigorous with only the best applicants offered admission to the highly competitive first year Foundations program. After two semesters of intense grounding in the fundamentals of design practice and theory, students are invited to apply to continue their studies in one of five majors: architecture, interior design, multimedia design, visual communication and design management.
For students like Sarah Al-Dulaimi and Razan Hussein, the opportunity to take a summer course in painting provides a fresh creative outlet and an opportunity to break from their usual CAAD routines of studio and classroom work—and the results are impressive.
Al-Dulaimi, whose self-portrait features her face, wrapped in a swirl of white fabric, says that she wanted her work to serve as a commentary on the common impression that the hijab is a symbol of oppression, rather than a woman’s pursuit of purity.
“I am very excited about this as it’s my first portrait with oil and I feel, compared to anything I’ve produced so far, it really shows my progress in painting,” said Al-Dulaimi.
“Before summer, I would say that I knew how to paint. Now, I can confidently say that I know how to paint with skill,” she said.
“As a third-year architecture student, the intensity of my studies will only continue to build. I took this painting course for me. I have already told Professor Sheil that I am saving my spare credits for any other painting courses he plans to offer,” said Al-Dulaimi.
The Iraqi student started at CAAD with a strong grounding in art from her GSCE and International Baccalaureate (IB) studies in high school in Abu Dhabi and first heard about the college through a family friend who recommended that she pursue her degree at AUS. She joined her family on a guided tour of the expansive AUS campus and CAAD’s world-class facilities and decided to apply. The rest, as they say, is history.
Al-Dulaimi lives on campus at AUS, along with Razan Hussein who she met during the summer painting course.
Hussein, who is originally from Palestine, was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and is now pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. Her parents encouraged her to study at AUS to join her sister, who is studying computer science in the university’s College of Engineering.
“It was my mom who encouraged me to study interior design and I think it’s a good option for me— a good mix between academic and creative. I particularly like the fact that at CAAD I have the option to try new things, like painting and photography,” said Hussein.
“Everything in this course was new to me as I have never painted before, so it was exciting and challenging. I learned the importance of patience and how patience pays off, especially with painting,” she said.
Hussein describes her artwork as a reflection on the impact of war on children in Palestine and said that her newfound love of painting has been a helpful way for her to relieve stress.
Sheil, who has taught this course at CAAD since the university opened its doors in 1997, said this year’s exhibition showcases perhaps the best paintings he has seen come out of AUS.
“Every year I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of work created by CAAD students, many of whom have never picked up a paint brush before. Sarah and Razan’s paintings particularly stood out to me as exceptional as they speak to issues that are deeply important to them,” he said.
The exhibition Summer Painting is open to the public.
For more information about the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah and to view more student work, visit www.aus.edu/caad.