A series of events highlighting the skills, experiences, and achievements of VCUarts Qatar’s alumni, faculty, and students recently took place recently during Qatar Week held at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia.
Qatar Week is an annual exchange between the VCUarts Richmond and VCUarts Qatar campuses that includes exhibitions, panel discussions, film screenings, alumni talks, student dialogues, and much more.
This year Qatar Week took place from September 19-21. It was preceded by the “Research Labs Exhibition” which opened at the Anderson Gallery at VCU on September 9.
Comprised of works by faculty, students, and alumni, the exhibition, which will run until October 28, explores a broad and diverse spectrum of territories, including cultural production, nanotechnology and textiles, sound design, art and law in the gulf, product design, statistical analysis, pedagogy, Arabic typography, and emergent technology.
A reception was held on September 20 to celebrate the exhibition, and it was attended by Dr. Srirama Rao, VCU’s Vice President for Research and Innovation. He spoke highly of the exciting research initiatives underway at VCUarts Qatar, and noted the achievements of VCUarts Qatar’s Institute for Creative Research (ICR), which was officially launched in May 2022. Also in attendance were VCUarts Qatar’s Dean Amir Dean Berbić and other guests from VCU, as well as members of the ICR.
“Qatar Week was an opportunity for us to illustrate to our home campus community the impact that VCU and art and design are having in Qatar, and the exciting research and incredible alumni achievements that are taking place,” said Dean Berbić.
“A highlight of the week was having three of our alumni travel to Richmond to present on their projects contributing to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. We were thrilled to have Aisha Al-Ziani, a Qatari artist and singer, and VCUarts Qatar alumna, who spoke of her contribution as a soloist in the official soundtrack of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ soundtrack, titled, ‘Hayya Hayya’,” he added.
Qatari artist Bouthayna Al Muftah also spoke. Bouthayna is a graduate of VCUarts Qatar with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Bouthayna’s work is now seen worldwide, as she designed the official poster for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. The posters were recently exhibited at the Design Museum in London.
The third alumni panelist was Fatma Al Jaidah, from Qatar. Fatma is Project Director for the Corniche Activation at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy in Qatar. She also holds a degree from VCUarts Qatar in Graphic Design, graduating in 2007. In her role at the Supreme Committee, Fatma leads the delivery of the World Cup visitor experience in collaboration with host country project teams and stakeholders.
The three alumni shared details of their involvement in the tournament, the challenges that they had to face through their journey, and their professional and personal goals that they aim to achieve by completing their missions related to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, and the role their education in art and design at VCUarts Qatar contributed to their success.
Qatar Week also featured a Student Dialogue session, where students from both campuses engaged in presentations and discussion about art, student leadership, semester exchange and new areas of collaboration between the two campuses.
Midweek, a panel discussion was held at the Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) on the VCU campus, with the four directors of Tasmeem Doha, discussing the impact of the biennial from a post-pandemic perspective and the theme of Radical Futures. Tasmeem Doha is VCUarts Qatar’s biennial international art and design conference focusing on unique and contemporary themes within art and design.
Later that evening, VCUarts Dean Carmenita Higginbotham, and VCUarts Qatar Dean Amir Berbić hosted a reception and program at the ICA for special guests from the Pollak Society. The program featured video reels and film screenings, and it was curated by Róisín Tapponi, an Assyrian Iraqi-Irish film curator, programmer, writer and academic based in London.