27.8.18

mezaina mixtape vol. 1

mezaina mixtape vol. 1 . 2017

from last post's 'textile sisters' to my real sisters – here's a post dedicated to 3 special women. here's another project i worked on during my 'materiality and intimacy' course late last year. i created a mixtape of songs connected to memories of my sisters and family, while growing up in dubai during the late 80s and 90s.
music was very important in the mezaina household. when thinking about my family and years of childhood, there's always been music. i was born in 1985, the youngest after three sisters, and i have a fading recollection of interacting with their younger selves when we were all very young. but i do remember the music that was playing on the radio or on tv whenever they were around.
between the 80s and 90s, my sisters took me everywhere they possibly could. i was constantly with them at home, in school and on various outings. growing up in dubai, which was still a humble city in its early beginnings, the exposure to popular culture from the west was very dominant. our acquired interests in the british and american pop charts was inevitable. i remember music playing in car rides to and from school, and coming together as a family to watch the latest music videos on tv. my sisters also began a tradition of recording their favourite music videos on vhs tapes, which now take up a huge corner in storage! there's no doubt that music evokes intimate memories of pleasant times when we did things together as a family.
i have acquired similar tastes of each of my sisters’ various musical interests. the mezaina mixtape vol. 1 is a homage to my sisters' love for music and the pop stars that defined the 80s and 90s. besides having immediate memories, they’re also great songs to listen to. the collected songs within the mixtape act as vignettes of personal memories i have of each song in relation to my sisters. hearing a particular song immediately takes me back to a specific moment from the past. these intimate memories slowly fade with age, yet listening to these recordings on a cassette tape feels like stepping into a time capsule, with sounds that are so specific to a particular era.
i dedicate this mixtape to my sisters, for being who they are and for what they mean to me. i haven’t made a mixtape since cassette tapes were relevant, so this was a trip down memory lane, reminding me of when i would watch my sisters make mixtapes of their own.
thank you for letting the music you love become the soundtrack to my life in good times and bad. to quote nan goldin who, in her book ‘the ballad of sexual dependency’, perfectly said – “ […] this is my party. this is my family, my history.” 

happy listening (click on the memories below, which will direct you to the song attached to the selected memory).

the mezaina mixtape vol. 1
side a (the 80s)

side b (the 90s)

thank you textile sisters: 2016 - 2018

anjuli . 2017 

carolina . 2017

cassie . 2017

charlotte . 2017

khalid . 2017

winnie . 2017

'thank you textile sisters' zine . 2017

this post is long overdue, but it only made sense to work on it when i got back to dubai. this is a post dedicated to the five wonderful women i shared my risd experience with in the textiles department. 
in the fall semester of last year, i took a class titled 'materiality and intimacy' which focused on understanding intimate/personal objects and artworks. it was a struggle at first being a part of the class, because of student dynamics and immature conversations during class discussions. but overtime, it was one of my favourite classes i took at risd, as it expanded my knowledge of artists, works and reading material i would never have been exposed to. shout out to professor jo sittenfeld for really working hard in making the course engaging and enriching.
for one of the class assignments, i had to create a project that combined the two prompts of creating a ‘family album’ with a selected quote from one of our class readings. i selected a quote by nan goldin from her photo series ‘the ballad of sexual dependency’, which was my first time seeing her work. goldin describes how she built her own family around her circle of friends, which reminded me of my situation of being temporarily separated from my family back home, and having to create a new one in providence. my chosen family were my 'textile sisters' in the risd textile graduate program. here's what nan goldin said which really hit home:

“in my family of friends, there is a desire for the intimacy of the blood family, but also a desire for something more open-ended. roles aren’t so defined. these are long-term relationships. people leave, people come back, but these separations are without the breach of intimacy. we are not bonded by blood or place, but by a similar morality, the need to live fully and for the moment, a disbelief in the future, a similar respect for honesty, a need to push limits, and a common history.”

i really think i got lucky with the group of girls i shared the graduate experience with. as the only boy in my group, my ‘textile sisters’ were welcoming and open, accepting me into their lives. we’ve all come from different walks of life and experiences, but together we shared this moment, creating our own history and memories. we were all very aware that our time together was temporary, and we’d probably part ways to begin new chapters in our lives upon graduation. but the relationships we’ve built together will truly last forever.
i created a zine with illustrated portraits of my ‘textile sisters’ to commemorate the community we built for ourselves and each other. i gifted each of the girls a copy so that no one else except the six of us get to have one. this personal zine is my way of saying thank you to anjuli, carolina, cassie, charlotte and winnie, for 2 wonderful years together at risd. 

17.8.18

a yellow notebook

daftar asfar . 2018 (photo courtesy of nahla tabbaa)

daftar asfar – pages 1 (with rama duwaji) & 2 . 2018 (photo courtesy of nahla tabbaa)

daftar asfar – pages 3 & 4 (with sarah ahmed) . 2018 (photo courtesy of nahla tabbaa)

here are a series of illustrations i worked on shortly after moving back to dubai. i contributed to a project titled 'daftar asfar', which loosely translates to 'yellow notebook'. daftar asfar is a traveling sketchbook "[...] built on the spirit of collaboration, based in the middle east.". the sketchbook is shared with artists to freely create imagery and collaborate with each other within its pages.
when i was given the sketchbook, the first page i was assigned had already been worked on by an amazing illustrator who had the book before me – rama duwaji. i had four days to work on a total of four pages, leaving room on my last page for the next artist to start from. i was so happy to hear that the next contributing artist who i'd be sharing a page with was one of my favourite zine makers and friend, sarah ahmed.
it was a fun project to work on; drawing freely and expressively without worrying about any rules. i filled my pages while stationed in my temporary workspace – the dining room at home! my illustrations were of observations around me at that moment, as well as of photos of myself and friends, memories of people and specific places from home and my time in providence. for the first time in a long time, i drew without referencing a photo through tracing, and challenged myself by only drawing from observation. i think i did a pretty good job loosely capturing accuracies of some of the portraits of myself and friends in the above pages.
a big thanks goes to nahla tabbaa for inviting me to participate in daftar asfar. i can't wait to see where this project goes, and i'm truly honoured to be a part of it. here's more info on daftar asfar via their instagram page.

16.8.18

back home

portrait . 2018

it's been awhile since i last updated my blog. i've been back home in dubai for almost a month now, and have been occupied with settling back and adjusting to being here. i'm so glad to be amongst my family and friends again, and in the city that inspires me. but i do miss moments of being in providence – like my apartment, or my amazon prime account! what i do miss the most is having a studio space, and completely committing to an artistic practise. my biggest challenge with being back is figuring out how to apply my risd experience into my practise here, and making it all work towards becoming a sustainable artist.
i can't wait to see what projects i work on next and what i come up with. i'll slowly be picking up momentum once i get past the jet lag and cleaning up my room which is in need of a long, overdue makeover! until then, i just wanted to let everyone know that i'm back home. 
i illustrated myself as a quick exercise to get my creative juices flowing. stay tuned, for posts on what's to come, and some old projects i didn't have time to share.

21.6.18

capes make the man

'capes make the man' at risd grad show . 2018

'capes make the man' at risd grad show . 2018

'warrior' cape (detail) . 2018

'dancer' cape (detail) . 2018

'lover' cape (detail) . 2018

'capes make the man' at risd textiles show, nyc . 2018

'king' cape . 2018

'magician' cape (detail) . 2018

'warrior, dancer, lover' capes (detail) . 2018

'lover' cape . 2018

i write this post as an mfa graduate – imma master y'all! i did it, i successfully graduated from the rhode island school of design with a masters of fine arts in textiles. it's been a crazy two years, with many ups and downs, but it sure was a blast. i'm truly grateful for it all. i can't believe it's over – it feels like only yesterday where i was back home in dubai announcing my move to providence to pursue an mfa. now it's over, and i'm ready to move back home to face what comes next.
i share with you my final thesis project titled 'capes make the man'. the project is definitely an outcome of self discovery and growth over the last two years whilst being away from home and family. it truly is a stepping stone for me, and i think the work i produce from now on will not be the same. i most certainly will continue to work within design and illustration, but i think i've found my calling – i enjoy making garments that embody narratives which transform the wearer. i'm not sure yet how i'll be able to include this new interest in my current studio practise once back in dubai, but i'm committed to making it work. i'm very proud of my thesis project, and i hope all of you out there enjoy it too. below is the abstract from my thesis book which briefly explains what my project is about:

‘capes make the man’ is a project that provided me with the opportunity to grow as a designer and an artist. over the last two years at risd, i’ve frequently asked myself questions about my place and role as a man in the united arab emirates, and what awaits when i move back after graduating. using personal narratives and cultural symbols from home, i bring to life the archetypes i carry as a mature masculine – my king, warrior, magician, lover and dancer. the end result is a series of bold, wearable capes, resembling stage costumes worn by pop stars on concert tours. through a combination of screen printing, dyeing and embroidery techniques, the capes visually contextualise these archetypes, what they personally mean to me and the characters i embody when caped.

the photos above do not do justice, but i hope they give a sense of the overall look and feel of the collection. once back home, i do intend on taking proper documentation of the capes, so stay tuned for future posts which should have better photos, as well as a few more details on what informs the narratives behind each cape. until then, i end with a photo of myself in an unflattering graduation robe after the graduation ceremony.


at risd commencement, 2 june . 2018 (photo by hind mezaina)

25.5.18

a post iftar cup of karak

karak house for ramadan . 2018

karak house for ramadan pattern design . 2018

karak house ramadan edition cups (image courtesy of karak house) . 2018

karak house ramadan edition cups (image courtesy of karak house) . 2018

karak house ramadan edition cups (image courtesy of karak house) . 2018

ramadan wishes from providence to all those observing. may god bless you all and your families on this special holy month. 
it doesn't really feel much like ramadan here, but projects like these make it feel festive in some strange way. i had the pleasure of working with karak house again, this time to work on ramadan themed cups. it was a great opportunity to have a break from working on my thesis project at risd (stay tuned for a post on this very soon) and to work on something fun. working with a tight deadline and juggling school work, the end result is pretty cool, fun and festive. 
if you're in dubai for ramadan, please make sure to head to karak house for a post-iftar cup of hot, tasty karak. thank you to the karak house team for reaching out and working together again for another round of designed cups.

10.3.18

culture capital

'culture' themed illustration for dct abu dhabi . 2018

here's an illustration i worked on for abu dhabi's department of culture and tourism. i was invited by the dct team to work on a series of illustrations that highlighted the cultural scene in the uae's capital; from the recently opened louvre abu dhabi to the capital's first cultural center – qasr al hosn, as well as the city's various musical activities and traditional crafts.
the end result is a collage of illustrations presenting the vibrant cultural scene in abu dhabi. i'm not sure what the final illustration will be used for, but i do hope dct enjoy it as much as i did making it.

4.2.18

from barcelona to abu dhabi

'from barcelona to abu dhabi' invite . 2018

'emirian' displayed at 'from barcelona to abu dhabi' . 2018 (image courtesy of admaf)

'emirian' displayed at 'from barcelona to abu dhabi' . 2018 (image courtesy of admaf)

i'm truly honoured to be part of the exhibition 'from barcelona to abu dhabi: works from the barcelona museum of contemporary art (macba) in dialogue with the emirates', which officially opened yesterday. organised by the abu dhabi music and arts foundation (admaf), the exhibition is part of the abu dhabi festival programme, showcasing works from the macba collection alongside works by 20 emirati artists, including myself.
selected for the show was my artwork titled 'emirian', originally commissioned by uae unlimited and exhibited at the maraya art centre in 2016. check out my previous post here with details on the artwork when it was first exhibited.
i'm so humbled to be part of an exhibition that showcases works from the macba's collection spanning over ninety years, as well as exhibiting alongside many of the uae's prominent, established artists from different generations. i really wish i was there to see it all in person. a huge thank you goes out to the admaf team, and curator nasser abdullah for reaching out and working on showing my piece in my absence. really appreciate all the effort put into having me be part of the show.
for full details on the exhibition and programming, head here. 'from barcelona to abu dhabi' runs until 17 march 2018, so make sure to head to manarat al saadiyat to check it out.

20.1.18

the whole nine yards

'the whole nine yards' exhibition poster . 2018

'the whole nine yards' textile graduate biennial show . 2018

'captain emirates' 1 . 2017

'captain emirates' 2 & 3 . 2017

'captain emirates' 1 . 2017

'captain emirates' 2 & 3 . 2017

my first post of 2018! belated new year wishes to all the krossbreed lovers. hope everyone's having a good start to the year so far. i'm back in providence for my final semester at risd. i still can't believe that it'll all be over in five months. but until then, there's loads to do. as always, will be sharing updates and projects, both in and out of risd.
the 2018 edition of the textiles graduate biennial show opened yesterday at the sol koffler graduate student gallery. titled 'the whole nine yards', the exhibition showcases works from both the first and second year textile grad students. there's lots to see, both finished pieces and process works, giving a little glimpse into what happens in our studios.
selected works for the exhibition include my final collection from last semester. titled 'captain emirates' (hah!), the collection takes inspiration from various male archetypes , as well as male representations in the uae from over the years. for more details on the project, check out my previous post here.
thank you to everyone that came down to yesterday's opening. it was great seeing a busy gallery space and hearing feedback about everyone's works. i'm really glad that people are responding positively towards my work. gives me comfort that i'm on the right track towards my final thesis project.
if you missed last night's opening, and are based in providence, the exhibition runs until 18 feb 2018. the sol koffler gallery is opened daily from 12 - 8 pm. more details are on the exhibition poster above (which i designed myself. the graphic is an ode to one of my favourite films, mary poppins, as well as the various rejected yet humorous show titles that didn't make it).