Nada Al Ameri.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Nada Al Ameri is a visual artist and art therapist with her own gallery, Reflections Art Gallery, in Abu Dhabi. With a background in chemical engineering, she has also a Masters in History of Art and Museums, obtained from the University of Sorbonne and Ecole du Louvre in Paris, France. She is UK accredited in Art Therapy.
She speaks to Gulf Today about her artistic odyssey
Why did you choose to promote art after being a student of engineering?
My story in art starts when I was born in Abu Dhabi 1979, but spent my childhood in the United States. I began doing art from age five: it is a talent from the Almighty. I am self-taught, though supported by my family. I am inspired to follow my heart to create new art (art from the heart). Behind my artwork, there is a chemistry of the colours of my life, where the brain and universe meet for change. I always keep art as a part of my everyday life, as water in our lives.
The love of art has stayed with me, and it has developed with experimentation and passion. I first displayed art in a 1985 art exhibition in Florida, at the age of seven. In my participations at school, at age twelve, I designed a poster that won the first award among Abu Dhabi schools. I have won awards at schools in the UAE and also participated in shows in Bahrain, Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Europe.
Why did you name the gallery ‘Reflections’?
It reflects me, my inner strength and is a story behind the reflections in my artworks. There is chemistry or a bond between the male and the female, which I create, using the symbol of circle and rectangle. I mix the colours, reflecting hydrogen and oxygen, with the resultant reaction, which is H2O or water. We cannot live without water - it is essential for our lives. I always say the relationship between the she and he — it can be your son, father, husband, friend or your shadow — is special.
You designed some part of the gallery interior by yourself. Do you have formal training as an interior designer or are you self-taught?
I always do things by myself, with my own creativity. I reuse things to conserve and create a piece to reflect my identity. I did the flooring from marble waste, did the grouting to create my own colours and designed the furniture as well. The sinks are made of oil barrels. I combined the chemical side with the art and creativity sides!
Can you tell us something about the award you won in 1992 from the UAE Ministry of Education for your work ‘The Human and Science Poster’?It was a poster I did live. I won the first prize in Abu Dhabi: later, I won the first prize at the UAE level. It was really the first experience for me in live competition, and it was during Ramadan.
It is about interconnected, international hands holding the Quran with the verse “Taught man that which he knew not” with UAE symbols around it.
What is your inspiration as an artist and what is your message as an artist?
Every person has a small, baby talent inside him, not only for art, since everything in our life is art. Communication is art; love is art; happiness is art; giving is art. I believe everything you deal with is an art.
How do you combine your aesthetic side as an artist with the commercial side of running a gallery and administering sales?
I support all kind of arts; I display students’ creativity and sell their artworks to improve their skills and develop their talent, so that they know their own artistic identity.
I promote my artworks too, along with that of others who would like to display their works, in the UAE and internationally. I also teach art therapy and support people of determination and their talent.
You have a strong liking for working with People of Determination. Tell us this side of your artistic life?
I started working with them since 2005 and have many projects for the future as well. I do art therapy and have many initiatives for people of determination, in the UAE and abroad, especially for the visually impaired. I teach them how to paint, using the two senses of touch and smell. I do workshops with them live and educate them on primary, secondary and tertiary colours. I help them use the Braille language.
What is the therapeutic role of art? How are art and medicine linked?
I am an art therapist. I use my knowledge and experience with my background in certified coaching and research. They all bond together to heal and improve health, and if a person has a problem, I can analyse it and put together a programme for him for a solution, especially in cases such as patients suffering from ADHD, dialysis and cancer patients, depression and autistic children. I also do family counselling and coaching.
‘Reflections’ is nearly half a decade old. How do you see it shaping in a decade?
I would like Reflections Art Gallery to spread all around the world, to reach every one of talent and creativity. This will enhance its unique identity, its positive energy and how it bonds with all cultures, to support each other and transfer knowledge and awareness, so we can learn from everyone all around the world.
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