300 artists hone their street art and graffiti skills

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By Saleh Fareed

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH —
More than 300 participants took part in 23 artistic sessions and workshops held as a part of the educational initiative "The wave won’t stop when you leave". The six-week initiative kicked off its activities at the beginning of 21,39 Summer Edition organized by the Saudi Art Council and supported by the Ministry of Culture.

The courses and workshops were conducted by an elite group of Saudi artists in various fields including calligraphy, graffiti, street art, graphic art, pottery, painting on canvas and paper shaping and decorating in addition to a relaxation and mediation training course dedicated for children. The accompanying art gallery is located in the square adjacent to Rabat Al-Khunji in Jeddah Historical Area. Activities are open to visitors and participants every day from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. until July 18.

Shedding light on “The wave won’t stop when you leave”, Basmah Felemban, curator of the activity, said that the enthusiasm that the local kids showed during the workshops and the outstanding creativity they demonstrated will no doubt contribute to enriching the Historical Area artistically and maintain a culture of beauty and creativity.

She pointed out that street art in its various shapes and forms can be noticed across the country, whether it features poetic or social statements, group tags, or beautiful murals; this type of visual outcome is at once an individualistic form of expression, and a form of social commentary.

“Oscillating between art and vandalism, this form of visual output utilizes the collective space of the city as its backdrop. Artists’ engagement with their physical surroundings manifests their personal relationship with the city and the social infrastructure that supports it,” she said.

Felemban added that the exhibition aims to unpack the complex network of relationships between the artists, their physical environment and society that have come to shape the phenomenon of street art in Saudi Arabia.

“By capitalizing on the format of an exhibition, street art and the subculture that is driving it can be repackaged and represented to a wider audience to further understand this form of visual expression as a tool to question and reflect on wider patterns of social behavior, which is framed and supported by the physical form of our cities,” she highlighted.

Felemban stated that throughout the research process for the educational initiative a set of questions kept recurring, such as, “why street artists are drawn to neglected, old and isolated spaces to tag or mark? What is the relationship between people and the walls around them? And how can we understand street art as a medium for communication?

“In order to answer these questions and build a meaningful relationship between commissioned pieces, existing works and the community of street artists, the curatorial framework is committed to not be intrusive to the community, be inclusive in the process and final outcome, develop a city guide in collaboration with local graffiti artists, and commission works that are focused on a collective understanding of place, context, and community,” she concluded.


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