We recently met Ameera Al-Aji, Qatari Artist and Community Service Supervisor at Qatar Foundation (QF) and got the chance to interview her for special insight on the thoughts and feelings of a local artist and the work in the community. Ameera graduated in 2009 from Qatar University with a degree in Art Education. Since then she has completed numerous courses in Fine Arts in Qatar and the United Kingdom.
She already exhibited her artworks as early 2004 in al-Jasrah Cultural and Social Club, and has held two Solo exhibitions in Katara called 1040 and Different. As an artist, Ameera has received many awards including a certificate of artistic excellence from Qatar University, a certificate of participation from Qatar Museums Authority in the Exhibition (Mal Lawal) 2012, and a certificate and arbitration shield in the National Creativity competition for independent schools by Al Bayan educational complex in 2014.
Ameera also plays an essential and exemplary role as a Community Service Supervisor at QF and in her prior work with Childcare Services founding the number one nursery in Qatar. She focuses on her passions such as enhancing the community and developing a stronger togetherness.
ILQ: How would you describe your work as an artist and Community Service Supervisor?
Ameera: When I started as an artist it was mainly about myself, specific situations and things I’ve been going through myself, but then recently I moved to community art which is strongly related to my work in Community Service. Because of my work with the community and communication with people that face a lot of different life scenarios, and I try to capture what I see in the community in a story, and in an art piece.
ILQ: What do you think makes art so important for the community?
Ameera: I think art is an element that really affects people, because we use, we watch and we interact with art on a daily basis, maybe without even noticing. I think art can do a lot in terms of helping the personality, the psyche, and it goes with the human development. This can eventually extend into community development! For me personally art changes many things within me, like a kind of therapy. It is a way of perceiving life, a way of writing and talking about things that move me.
ILQ: As an artist, what gets you inspired?
Ameera: A lot of things inspire me, but I am not a person who goes for any piece of art. I only produce art when it is connected to my feelings. It should be a situation or anything that I go through and something that has left a mark on me. Sometimes I want to tell people through my art that ‘it’s fine’, that ‘I’ve been there’, that ‘anyone could be there’ and that life always goes on. I can be inspired by the smallest or simplest things that somehow touched me.
ILQ: Throughout the course of your work, you’ve participated in many exhibitions with your paintings and 3D models, and have had two solo exhibitions so far. Can you tell us a little about your solo exhibitions and how you developed as an Artist throughout them?
Ameera: My art is about the community and capturing myself as a member of this community, and what challenges I face inside and outside the community. My first solo exhibit was called 1040, which is my name Ameera. 29 pieces told the story about me from 2006 until 2013, a sort of trail of things that happened to me as a person; losing friends, gaining friends and the pros and cons of life.The second solo was called Different in 2015 that I worked on for a full year and it is very close to me. I feel even if I do something new, this one will remain ‘different’. In this one I talk about the challenges any unique member of our conservative community can face either with themselves, internally, or with the community, externally. Sometimes when you think about something you want to do, you struggle and begin to think that it is wrong, but based on what? Based on community judgment. There are paintings and pyramids showing the challenges we face and the differences between every one of us that we must accept. Once we accept these differences we will flourish!
ILQ: What are the top three things that make you want to help the community?
Ameera: I guess development of the community is the first. I volunteer in a lot of projects just to focus on how I can participate in doing something for my community. To sustain a community we need creativity because now Qatar is starting to focus more on art and young artists, as targets for development. Third comes strength, because with all the development going on in Qatar it is hard to stay strong, positive and to fight for your beliefs. I don’t want to force people to stay strong and I don’t help them directly to be strong, but I want to serve as an example of staying strong and continuing to do my thing!
ILQ: Which projects are you most proud of?
Ameera: I love all the projects that I run! One of them is QF Art Atelier, which we founded in 2014 and the second edition will start this October. Then the graffiti wall was the first approved graffiti work in Qatar, well received and recognized in the GCC. From my personal projects it is the solo exhibition Different, because of its meaning to me.
ILQ: What can we anticipate from your work this year?
Ameera: I can already tell you a little bit about what I am working on. It is about ‘belonging’. How it is this need every human craves in the their lives. It is important to feel you belong to a tribe, a family, a community, a country or to your loved one. I am currently trying to break it down as a concept for my art. But I am still very into triangles! I feel they mean three things to me: spirit, mind and body. They are what completes a human, so when one of them is missing, you lost something important.
ILQ: And finally, what are your wishes for Qatar’s future?
Ameera: The typical answer to this question would be to see Qatar grow and develop. But for me, the most important thing is staying connected. We have a lot of crazy and creative people – crazy in a good way!, but unfortunately there is a lack of connectivity between the people due to the constant development and change. I wish to also see Qatar as a leading country in the GCC and the world!
Thank you, Ameera for this lovely, very insightful and empowering interview. We are proud to have such a visionary and creative soul like Ameera Al Aji here in Qatar. ILQ looks forward to more exhibitions and participating how Ameera will change Qatar for the better with her crucial work in the community.
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