VCUarts Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner university, has announced that two alumni members and one current student are exhibiting their work in a creative showcase at the soon-to-be-launched Galleria mall in Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD).
The exhibitions of VCUarts Qatar MFA in Design alumnus Othman Khunji, VCUarts Qatar Class of 2020 Fashion Design graduate Lauren Morell, and Class of 2024 Art Foundation student Valeria Mazzei are located on the ground floor of the mall, and are a short hop from one another.
Between them, the designers explore themes including sustainability, cultural conservation, personal memories, and, individual and societal responses in the context of religion and community.
* ‘Between the Holy and The Self’ by Othman Khunji
Pointed, polarising, disruptive, startling, truthful, realistic, exaggerated, daring, vague – visitors would be challenged to agree on a word that describes the exhibition by Othman Khunji, a Bahraini interdisciplinary conceptual artist and VCUarts Qatar MFA alumnus; what they do agree on, however, is that it is thought-provoking.
Khunji, who is also a Portfolio Development Counselor at VCUarts Qatar, says he used the language of design to explore how societal and individual behaviours morph and molt in response to the restrictions and requirements that religion, culture, and society place on them; and the results are the artwork 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,” says Khunji.
Khunji, a VCU ‘10 Under 10’ award-winning artist, 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.
The exhibition will run until April 20, and will be open for viewing from 10am to 10pm, Saturdays to Thursdays, and 2pm to 10pm on Fridays.
* ‘Escape’ by Lauren Morell
Lauren Morell’s exhibit – ‘Escape’ – is a reminder that the change starts from within oneself.
Her display consists of clothing, accessories, home decor, 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 upcycling, recycling, and reusing 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,” says Morell.
Collaborating with Morell for the exhibition are Maryam al-Sheikh, QF alumna Aidana Khalid al-Mesnad, and VCUarts Qatar alumna Noor Aburish.
Morell’s exhibition will run until April 19.
* ‘Venus Karma Beauty’ by Valeria Mazzei
Valeria 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 decor made in Italy, by Italian artisans.
“The display has taken the pathway of sustainability. The vintage teacups on display are from the 1930s and the 1940s. They’ve been collected from women who are my grandmother’s age, and been transformed into homemade vintage vegan candles. Even the flowers used as decorations in the candle are hand-picked by the 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,” says Mazzei.
Mazzei has collaborated with brands such as Periwinkle, SADA, MKG for the display which will continue until September.