Follow Me on Pinterest


shadia alem
within the otherworldly

Saudi. Female. Artist. Shadia Alem collects these loaded 21st century identities like pearls strung on a necklace. But she is much more than the sum of these parts. Once just a girl clutching drawing pencils in her hand, even then, she was able to recognise the jinn (hidden, spiritual creatures in Islamic and Arab folklore) dancing through her native city of Mecca. Alem is an artist with a gift for sensitivity, one who believes in light and energy and struggles to render the invisible visible.

She gladly owns the identities that society has given her. "I love all that defines me - Saudi, female and a seeker of beauty. I don't mind being part of the related social political connotations," she says. "Saudi translates in my history, the life I have lived, the set of struggles and privileges that formed my unique character." Yet Alem is uneasy referring to herself as an artist because of the commercial connotations that the title carries in today's market. "The title of artist means commitment and exposure and allowing others to be an active part in what you are. That makes me uncomfortable," she explains. Destiny, however, is another story entirely: "I am destined to be a person who is continually seeking to capture and simply express beauty."

To read the whole article, subscribe to Canvas magazine today.