Two alumni and one current student of Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) are exhibiting their work in a creative showcase at the soon-to-be-launched Galleria mall in Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD).

The exhibitions, featuring MFA in Design alumnus Othman Khunji, Fashion Design graduate Lauren Morell and Class of 2024 Art Foundation student Valeria Mazzei, will be on showcase at the ground floor of the Galleria mall, a ‘short hop’ from one another.

Between the three of them, they explored the themes of sustainability, cultural conservation, personal memories, and individual and societal responses within the context of religion and community.

Between the Holy and The Self by Othman Khunji

Othman KhunjiPointed, polarizing, disruptive, startling, truthful, realistic, exaggerated, daring, vague – visitors would be challenged to agree on a word that best describes the exhibition by Othman Khunji, a Bahraini interdisciplinary conceptual artist and an alumnus of VCUarts Qatar MFA. What they do agree on, however, is that it is thought-provoking.

Khunji – who is currently a Portfolio Development Counselor at VCUarts Qatar – says he used the language of design to explore how societal and individual behaviours morph and meld in response to the restrictions and requirements that religion, culture and society place on them. The results are the artworks on display.

When my work sparks a debate and invites insightful yet sensitive questions, when preconceived notions are disrupted, when an audience is provoked, or feels relieved and can relate – that’s when I know that I’ve successfully reached my goal of establishing platforms for dialogue in the hope of generating new progressive schools of thought for issues that are usually swept under the carpet in the Gulf region.

Khunji has worked with local and international organisations such as Studio Banana, Virginia Commonwealth University, Brown University, Kings College of London, French House of Design, and Qatar Museums.

His exhibition will run until 20 April and will be open for viewing from 10 am to 10 pm, Saturdays to Thursdays, and from 2 pm to 10 pm on Fridays.

Escape by Lauren Morell

Lauren Morell’s exhibit – Escape – is a reminder that change starts from within oneself. Her display consists of clothing, accessories, home décor, and furniture and includes kaftans, face-masks, sofas, frames, carpets, and wall decorations. According to Morell, the collection is inspired by nature, and today’s fashion industry, and reveals the beauty of up-cycling, re-cycling, and re-using of textiles and other consumer goods.

The collection sends a strong message that the choices you make today affect someone else’s choices tomorrow; in other words, the processes involved in the production of those textiles you choose now will affect future generations.

Collaborating with Morell for the exhibition are Maryam Al Sheikh, Qatar Foundation alumna Al Dana Khalid Al Mesnad, and VCUarts Qatar alumna Noor Aburish.

Morell’s exhibition will run until 19 April.

Venus Karma Beauty by Valeria Mazzei

Valeria MazzeiValeria Mazzei’s display goes by the name ‘Venus Karma Beauty’ and the collaboration space itself is titled ‘Elite Space’. Mazzei describes the exhibition as a collaboration space where vintage meets minimalistic. The exhibition consists of vintage décor made in Italy by Italian artisans.

The display has taken the pathway of sustainability, according to Mazzei. The vintage teacups on display are from the 1930s and the 1940s, collected from women who are the same age as her grandmother and transformed into homemade vintage vegan candles.

Even the flowers used as decorations in the candle are hand-picked by artisans from their own gardens. The aim is to breathe life – again – into forgotten pieces of household items that often have personal memories or stories behind them, thereby continuing the legacy of memories in the most sustainable of ways.

Mazzei has collaborated with brands such as Periwinkle, SADA, MKG for the display. Her exhibition will run until September.

For more information about VCUarts Qatar, visit qatar.vcu.edu


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