Shatha Abueljebain: From art to a movement

By Munirah Al-Fayez
KUWAIT: When Shatha abueljebain was younger, she did not think people knew how to produce digital art in Kuwait. The now 23-year-old self-taught artist would follow people from the Western world on social media to stay updated on her favorite form of art. But she discovered she was “100 percent wrong”—Abueljebain was “shocked” at the number of incredible artists in Kuwait. She says she is very proud of the digital art community in Kuwait and the Arab world.
Finding Arab artists who shared her interest, says Abueljebain, resulted in the ‘Arab Artist Club’, a community she co-founded for artists in the Arab world, where they can gather online to learn about art. The community is on Instagram at @arabartistclub. Abueljebain, who goes by @spilledartsociety on Instagram, said she has always liked being part of a community, because she believes it helps her grow and learn, through teaching herself and others. The significance of a community is that it grows together, supports each other and helps each other out.
This photo shows the art piece created by Shatha Abueljebain for Palestine. The Arabic text reads: “We shall not leave”.
According to Abueljebain, art, in all its forms, is very important in Kuwait, explaining it has been significant as “a way of processing and sending out messages and ideas to people”. She says its impact stems from how it portrays the culture at the time it was produced. “For example, after the discovery of oil in Kuwait, you can see the innovation and progression of art in Kuwait, and now with the progression of digital media, you can see the new age of progression in art. Art reflects who we are as a community — that is how significant art is,” Abueljebain said, adding if there is a problem in the community, it is very often expressed through art.
Art for Palestine Abueljebain said she usually does not use her art to represent a certain political issue; however, she did use art to stand up for Palestine, although she said it is more “Islamic” or “humanitarian” rather than political. She said the coverage she got with regards to her art about Palestine from people in Kuwait and outside too was “pretty huge”. When she went to Irada Square, she was “shocked” after seeing her art “literally everywhere”. She said children wore it on their t-shirts and people held it on their posters.
Abueljebain said MP Hamad Al-Matar even printed her artwork and put it in his National Assembly office, adding there is a picture of him holding her art in Irada Square. Although she does not use art to make political or societal statements, Abueljebain stressed how amazed she was at how art could be this impactful in sending a certain message, adding she could not believe it was possible. However, she says her Instagram account was shut down, and the platform was not allowing her to express her opinions freely through art.
This photo shows the art piece created by Shatha Abueljebain for Palestine. The Arabic text says: “This is my fight”.
She said it was also intense having to deal with people who have different opinions. When asked if she has any advice for new artists who are thinking about sharing their art, specifically on social media, Abueljebain said an artist should keep going and not get discouraged due to lack of engagement. Lack of engagement with a specific artwork, according to her, does not mean it is bad. The important thing, she explained, is that you are satisfied and you see your progress through the years.
“Keep reminding yourself —why you are sharing your work and why are you making it: Is it to gain followers?” Abueljebain said. Abueljebain advises to always look out for your local community no matter what your field is, because it will have a huge impact on you and others. “You will get to support each other, learn from each other, grow together and feel like you belong to that community and are part of it,” she said. “It will give you comfort and make you feel at home.”

The post Shatha Abueljebain: From art to a movement appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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