22 September 2021

Cultural Fusion Brings Qatar-US Ties to Life

Students from the department of Graphic Design creatively highlight the relationship between the two countries

The artwork of seven graphic design students from VCUarts Qatar was on display at ‘Cultural Fusion’, an exhibition to commemorate Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture, held at ART29 gallery at the W Hotel, recently.

Roudah Al-Sheeb, Ghada Ali, Naima Almajdobah, Hagar Allam, Sara AlHelal, Hannah Fakhri and Razan Khalid Mustafa created an immersive sensory voyage through the icons and ideals that both define and unite the cultures of Qatar and the US. The entire exhibition was student-led and was co-curated by one of the exhibitors, Fakhri, and fellow graphic design student, Fatima Nazir.

The individual display of each student couldn’t have been more varied in theme and approach. Hagar Allam’s work titled ‘Celebrating Unity’ consisted of photos that portrayed iconic architectural sites in Qatar and the US, while ‘Cultural Closet’ by Razan Khalid Mustafa depicted the similarities and differences in the fashion styles of people residing in both countries, particularly a shared affinity for streetwear. In ‘Greetings from Qatar and USA’, Sara AlHelal playfully combined online images symbolic of the two countries to literally bring two countries together in a satirical way.

Roudah Al-Sheeb’s ‘Walls and Fences’ captured architectural styles in the US and Qatar through a comparison of walls and fences commonly found in both countries. ‘Fusion Signs’ by Hannah Fakhri was a quirky take on vintage and contemporary shop signs in Qatar and the US, and ‘Lucent’ by Ghada Ali drew inspiration from neon lights in US and Doha’s skyline. A combination of the English word ‘culture’ and the Arabic word ‘na’ which indicates the ownership of a thing, formed the title ‘Culturna’, the digital display conceived by Naima Almajdobah.

The event was attended by dignitaries from the country and abroad including Dr. Michael Rao, President, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia; Amir Berbić, Dean, VCUarts Qatar; Dominic Genetti, President, ExxonMobil Qatar; Nicolas Pearce, Joint Venture Asset Manager, ExxonMobil Qatar; Samantha Jackson, Public Diplomacy Officer, US Embassy, Doha; Ahmad Musa Al-Namla, CEO, Qatar Museums (QM); and Aisha Al Attiya, Head of Years of Culture, QM.

Dean Berbić captured the spirit of celebration, and the ambiance of creativity and inspiration that was palpable to one and all that evening, when he said, “I would like to congratulate our graphic design students for their amazing work that reflects the essence of the relationships between Qatar and the US. They put their time, talent and energy into the forms and images that show the fusion of two cultures; a fusion that is wholly manifested in VCUarts Qatar’s presence and influence in this country. This exhibition – much like our university – is a perfect example of the power of bringing cultures together through collaboration in art, design and innovation.”

The Qatar-US 2021 Year of Culture is part of Years of Culture, a cultural program run by QM to celebrate the ties between Qatar, and another country chosen for a specific year. Throughout the year, a variety of exhibitions, festivals, competitions and events mark the relationships between the two countries, providing the public an opportunity to explore and appreciate the similarities and differences between cultures.

Photogtraphs by Raviv Cohen.
Video by Nic van der Bijl.

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