Kuwaiti Artist Rua AlShaheen tells us about recycling existing elements to tell a new narrative.

We spoke with Kuwaiti artist Rua as she gives us an insight into her collage work as well as the inspiration behind her entire body of work.

Let’s get right into it…

Tell us a little about your self?

I am an architect and artist from Kuwait. I am currently pursuing my Phd in Design, Environment, and the Arts in the US. I have published two Arabic graphic novels, and had my installation art displayed at various local galleries as well as the Edge of Arabia Gallery in London.

Tell me about the time the moments you started creating art? 

My father studied fine arts in the US before shifting interests to Political Science, and he also had a film production black room in my grandparents basement. I started drawing anime art when I was around 10 years old, but it was nothing special. I later transitioned to creating various dolls from scrap material. As I got older, I went through a photography phase where I would design and edit various photoshoots at a home studio. During my first year of undergraduate school I started created art installations utilizing metal welding with the help of my father at our family farm. I have pretty much experimented with every art media and genre, such as designing 21k gold jewellery. I slowly developed an interest in digital collage, because similar to the welding work it meant recycling existing elements to tell a new narrative.  That led to the publishing of my two Arabic novels titled:

ليس هكذا تكتب القصص

وراء الشمس

2What are the themes you often explore in your work and why?

I always have a “Khaleeji” Gulf cultural element in my art. I also incorporate a lot of animal themes in my work mainly inspired by my design Zoo research.

What inspires you?

I always like to incorporate a sense of humor in my work, and I personally enjoy light-hearted art that is entertaining and should not be taken too seriously. For collages specifically, it all depends on the available high quality photos and what they can be transformed to be.3

What is the process in starting and doing your collages, do you find images online, or through magazines etc?

For my first graphic novel, I used the archive at the National Culture for Arts and Letters which consisted of old black and white photographs of Kuwait that I scanned. The second novel, used the Sultan Gallery photo archive with a combination of my own macro photography. My recent work however, utilizes images I search for online according to the theme and that I can find in high quality resolution.

Tell me about the art scene in Kuwait what are your thoughts on it?

It is quickly growing in number of artists and audience. It is great to see so much more attention given to contemporary art and young artists.

Connect us with a few of your favorite Arab Artists at the moment.

Helen ZughaibMohammed Ehsai and Fatema Albahrani.


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Follow Rua here to check out more of her work: @the_rua_ 

Celebrating Emerging Middle Eastern Creatives