Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) recently organised an event to recognise a former Artist-in-Residence Fellow who had her sojourn in Doha abruptly shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Qatar Foundation partner university’s Painting+Printmaking (PAPR) department developed and released a print catalogue of works that Brynn Higgins-Stirrup created during her nine-month residency in Qatar.
Titled ‘Figure Drawn’, the catalogue is meant to serve as Higgins-Stirrup’s solo exhibition which was scheduled to take place at Doha’s Firestation in early 2020, but was cancelled due to the pandemic lockdown.
In addition to images of Higgins-Stirrup's creative output, a critical essay about her work, and a transcribed conversation between Michael Perrone, assistant professor, PAPR, and herself, complete the catalogue. The publication will also feature artwork created by students taught by Higgins-Stirrup during her AIR Fellowship, and later, as an adjunct faculty. The PAPR department organised a physical exhibition of a portion of Higgin-Stirrup’s artwork at VCUarts Qatar’s The Gallery, which is being run until December 6.
Higgins-Stirrup, who flew down to Doha for the release of the catalogue and launch of the exhibition, was an Artist-in-Residence in the University’s PAPR department from August 2019 to May 2020, following which she has been serving as an adjunct faculty member in the Department from September 2020 to present.
Higgins-Stirrup, who lives and works in Montreal, Canada, as a visual artist and has completed residencies in Japan, India, US and Canada, says that living in Doha had an impact on her work.
“There were certainly some visual elements that seeped in,” she recalls. “For example, the integration of Western and Islamic texts on optics, as both regions carry such strong lineages of scientific development and diagrammatic drawing. I was able to access some of these texts at the new National Library of Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art and enjoyed the chance to engage with those artefacts’ materiality.”
“It’s exciting to return to Doha and get together with faculty and students after this period of global instability – in a way it was an occasion to celebrate the department’s work together with mine,” she added.