Noof Al-Naama, student at VCUarts Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner university, speaks about the impact of her family's artistic legacy on her career
Seeing my family’s legacy passed down from one generation to the next, and the thought of how proud my grandfather would be of me, if he were still alive, keeps pushing me forward more each day.
My talent started becoming visible at a very young age – when I was about three. I was different from my cousins and the children in my age group. They would play and run, and I would paint and draw. A habit that remains from a young age is that I tend to perfect my art pieces. I even recall my kindergarten teacher noticing that I took really long to color an in-class assignment, while all the other children would often take only a few minutes to finish their coloring task and go off to play.
Since I was little, I would draw or use art as a way to express my feelings. I would draw a portrait of my mother to express my love for her; I would customize a certificate to thank my father; or draw a flower to express my apology
Art runs in my family, and I have been surrounded by it from a very young age. My grandfather, Jassem Zaini, is one of the most influential Qatari fine artists. My mother was an art teacher, my father was a cartoonist at a local magazine, and my aunt has also pursued the same path. This pushed me to follow in their footsteps.
I was very close to my grandfather, and I was his biggest fan. He always told me to "keep drawing, no matter what." When he passed away in 2012, I was overwhelmed with sadness. He was my mentor and teacher. And with his passing away, my desire to fulfill his dream of becoming an artist only got stronger.
My grandfather had taught me that anything could be turned into a piece of art. He had a unique perspective – he would collect objects, whether from the side of the road, from a thrift shop, or any other place – and use it or get inspired to create his masterpieces. This was an interesting ideology that he passed down to me.
The power of art has also allowed me to choose art over any other field. It is relaxing, inspirational, powerful, universal, and impactful
The power of art has also allowed me to choose art over any other field. It is relaxing, inspirational, powerful, universal, and impactful. Since I was little, I would draw or use art as a way to express my feelings. I would draw a portrait of my mother to express my love for her; I would customize a certificate to thank my father; or draw a flower to express my apology.
I believe art can speak louder and is more powerful than words. It can communicate a meaningful message in a split second. Art is a universal language. No matter who the person is, where they come from, or what language they speak, art can connect in a way that no other medium can.
Art can shape society – it can easily introduce a new idea, deliver a message, or spread positivity. During this pandemic, for instance, Banksy was able to deliver a powerful message that showed frontline workers as superheroes. His artwork depicts a young boy, sitting on the floor, playing with a nurse superhero toy, while the child’s Batman and Spiderman action figures lie in a bin next to him. This painting allows people of all ages to admire the actual heroes who are sacrificing their lives for the sake of overcoming this global pandemic.
Currently, I am a student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar – a Junior enrolled in the Interior Design program. However, it is not only interior designing that holds my interest, I admire all fields of art and creativity. I enjoy drawing and painting on all kinds of surfaces – clothes, leather wallets and cases, playing cards and perfume bottles. Not only that, I have also started creating custom embroideries for my family and friends. It has been over four years now that I have been practicing my embroidery skills, and that I have been able to design and customize my own abayas.
I believe artists are constantly working to better their skills. So, when artists are asked the question of where you see yourself in five years, the answer will always be: a developing artist. I will continue to be a developing artist, always wanting to learn more, to be inspired in order to create my art pieces.
Noof Al-Naama is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar – a Junior enrolled in the Interior Design program.