For the next 4 weeks, JDEED will be focusing on one artist of our selection from the exhibition currently running at the Utah Museum Of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) , Cities of Conviction. Our first feature is about Balqis Al Rashed, a Saudi artist and designer, born in Riyadh and raised in Beirut who is currently the first international artist in residence at UMOCA. Amongst other thing, Balqis was also recently picked as a Nike ambassador. We selected her work for their deep personal engagement, intense and yet subtle at the same time.
Tell us a bit about your artistic journey. How did you start?
Well, I believe I was born an artist. My first artistic expressions happened at such a young age, whether it was when I was 3 drawing with crayons on our living room walls, or ripping my face off of the group family pictures from the family album to express my growing sense of not belonging. I believe these moments in my history really revealed to me this need to express myself visually and authentically, even if it was regarded as an act of vandalism to some.
That said, I graduated with a bachelors of fine arts in graphic design from the American university of Beirut. I believe this intensive program really allowed me to learn and acquire the skill set to be a very diverse artist and researcher. I was raised in Lebanon since 1993.. and made my move to saudi after graduating from AUB and moving back to saudi in 2009. I worked for a few years as a graphic designer and co-founded a fashion label in the time I was figuring out my self in this new but familiar context in Saudi Arabia. I eventually made the decision to dedicate myself full time to my art career in late 2014, and I have been doing it ever since.
The reason why I felt strongly about making this transition ranged from personal reason to the most part. It stemmed from my need to express myself and share myself true expression to the world. I knew that this would be the only way for me to have a fulfilling life, and I just went for it with a lot of anxiety but little hesitation.
Your series Emotional Digging seems to address very deep personal emotions. How did this journey begin?
‘Emotional digging’ was created after my dad passed away early 2016. It also coincided my career transition and other major personal transitions in my life. I was in a process of self discovery and understanding the inner works of my subconscious mind. Throughout this self discovery process, I discovered a psychotherapy technique that utilizes emotions to uncover traumas, memories, and deep rooted belief systems that helped shaped the person I am today. In a sense, ‘Emotional Digging’ is a self portrait of the many selves that I experienced, and still exist within me, influencing my decisions and my choices at all times.
Can you give us your point of view about the condition of female artists in Saudi?
Can you rephrase the question? When it comes to contemporary art, I believe the presence of Saudi female artist is still minimal, but it’s growing too.
Do you have any favorite media of creation?
I tend to be very playful with my mediums. I experiment with the way I articulate my concepts. I believe my educational background and experience gave me a set of skills that allows me the freedom to create using many different expressions. I don’t have a favorite media.. each concept requires it’s own medium of communication.
What are your future projects? Any dream collaboration?
I’m always working on personal projects and collaborations. I really enjoy collaborating with other artists. I have been for the past year collaborating with very talented musicians on some really special projects. I hope I get the chance to share these collaborations in the near future.
Discover more about Rashed right here