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
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."
TEXT BY DANNA LORCH AND MYRNA AYAD
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