Swedish national Madeleine Kurtsdotter’s artwork.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Following five successful runs since its inaugural edition in 2017, Art Connects Women (ACW) is once again taking centre stage as one of the largest women’s art exhibitions in the UAE and the region.
Under the patronage of UNESCO and organised by ZeeArts Gallery (Mar. 8 – 11), Dubai will play host to an extensive array of artworks by 112 women artists from 112 countries. Each woman represents her home country, in this annual showcase of creativity. The four-day extravaganza aligns its purpose with that of International Women’s Day, aiming to provide optimal women’s representation in the arts sector. Empowering the female gender in achieving new heights is also part of the agenda of the Gallery – activated on a global scale.
If it was a question of survivability in the previous years, it takes a back seat in this year’s programme of renewal, growth, and progress. “To dream is to inject courage into thoughts, and dreams are the beginning of all new ideas that are made real,” says Zaahirah Muthy, Founder, ZeeArts and ACW. “As such, the exhibition theme has been aptly named ‘Dare to Dream’. Education trumps ignorance, and to educate has always been Art Connects Women’s advocacy to better navigate the ever-shifting landscapes of the art world.”
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To equip women artists with appropriate skill sets, ACW furthers its pedagogical efforts through the hosting of conferences, with assistance from industry experts and leaders, seeking to shed light on often-neglected areas in the field. “Our conference theme is about “Fostering a Sustainable Art and Cultural Ecosystem” where we will introduce three panel discussions: Art and Finance, Embrace Equity and Focus on Female Architects and Cultural Heritage. The second night welcomes artists from across disparate cultures, nationalities and social backgrounds, to mingle and bask in the gathering of creative finesse that pervades the event.
“All things good in history must remain documented for future generations for reference, and this is also true for the annual Art Connects Women initiative,” Muthy points out. So every artist will have their artwork and their portrait embossed in an art book entitled ‘Women Artists around the World’. The volume is now in its fourth iteration and will remain in the private collections of ACW stakeholders, showcases in public libraries, besides being distributed to other artists and art promoters.
The philosophy of ACW is to celebrate achievement. As the curtains gradually get drawn over the event, a final tribute will be paid to the participating artists “for their strength, courage, determination, and their message of empowerment to the creative sector, to women in the world, as well as for all of humanity,” the Gallery says.
The award ceremony, an organic part of the celebrations, underlines the fact that through the event, the contributions of every woman are acknowledged and their work is valued. They are recognised for their significant role in fostering a society that is inclusive, altruistic, and above all, humane.“We would like to extend our gratitude and thanks to all our partners for their support through their ESG mission, and my thanks goes to all those incredible talented individuals who are working tirelessly to create a positive global impact,” concludes Muthy. ESG is an acronym for Environmental, Social and Governance. It takes the holistic view that sustainability extends beyond just environmental issues.
Hisham Farouk, CEO, Grant Thornton UAE, which backs the milestone event, said that “Grant Thornton UAE is proud to support the ZeeArts conference as it is an established forum that celebrates both art and women. As a society, we need to foster ecosystems that enable personal growth and empower people across genders and cultural backgrounds, to showcase and hone their skills. This mentality is what we practice in our own company and are happy to share with ZeeArts. We are looking forward to a wonderful series of events between the 8th and 11th of March. ”
Muthy hails from Mauritius and is an artist, activist and curator. Mostly a mixed-media artist, she has adapted herself to sculpting too. She holds multiple awards under her belt, among which are the ‘Leonardo Da Vinci Universal Award’ from Florence, Italy, and the Femina – Women International Leadership Award (Artist Category), from India. In 2016, she was awarded the Artist of the Year award by RAK Fine Arts Festival. Muthy was also the recipient of Oscar de la Jeunesse in Artistic Pursuit and Youth Leadership – an award given by the Government of Mauritius. She has her works in private and corporate collections and has exhibited in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the United States, and Asia.
ZeeArts is a global art incubator based in Dubai, with a branch in Mauritius. Its mission is to Connect, Collaborate and Celebrate the arts through artistic initiatives and projects. To promote artistic enterprise, it has also launched the Mauritius International Art Fair, Africa Speaks-54 and SDGs through Arts. ZeeArts has curated over 80 art exhibitions in the UAE, France, Mauritius, Georgia, Lebanon and Singapore. Grant Thornton UAE was founded in 1966 and is one of the UAE’s leading assurance, advisory and tax firms, dedicated to serving the needs of privately-held businesses, public interest entities and family-owned businesses. With offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, over 450 employees and experience across many fields, it has clients in financial services, hospitality and leisure, real estate and construction, trading, insurance, banking, transportation and manufacturing, among others.
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