Rawdha Thani

  • WordsAmira Asad
  • PhotographerNarisa Ladak
  • Assistant photographerMohamed Abdel Waheb
  • VideographerAqib Anwar
  • StylistMashael Alsaie

When Rawdha Thani paints, she finds refuge at the small, scratched and paint-dribbled white table stationed in her bedroom corner. Here, where she works with headphones in and music on shuffle, Rawdha not only creates art but processes her emotions. It’s like a visual therapy. ‘Instead of naming my paintings, I focus on an emotion I’m feeling during that period or moment when I’m creating art and I paint how it makes me feel – it’s like I try to visualize what those feelings are on canvas,’ she explains. Mainly working with with acrylic paints, Rawdha’s work incorporates a lot of geometric shapes and is heavily focused on light and shading to create and explore depths in her two dimensional practice.

Rawdha is protective of her practice, despite having exhibited her paintings at the Sikka Art Fair once before. She doesn’t share her work online or promote herself, but she is okay with that. ‘Over the past few years I’ve learned how to be more confident about sharing my work, but also how to be okay with feeling the need to create work that is for myself only and not to share with the world.’ However, there is a project that she’s developing that is brewing in the background. ‘I’m launching a product that I’m hopefully launching in the next few months,’ she gleams, unwilling to offer up any further information. Holding a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Zayed University, Rawdha also designs products.

Choosing the artistic route, Rawdha remembers, wasn’t always easy. Working in the creative world still raises questions and feelings of skepticism, especially among her mother’s generation, but it’s eased up over the past few years. ‘I feel like people today are more accepting when it comes to working in creative fields like art and design,’ she says. ‘When I started applying to university seven years ago I had to explain a lot about what I was going to be studying and how I was going to make a career out of it. It wasn’t as accepted back in the day as it is now and I think it’s changed so much for the better.’

Pursuing an educational path that was in line with her vision and wants, Rawdha worked against these perceptions and today she dabbles in multiple creative fields at once: from product design to painting to a full time position as cultural programmer at Dubai Design District (D3). Through her work at D3, she’s able to empower other students who are also pursuing more creative educational paths. As a cultural programmer, she’s helped move graduate shows of Zayed University and American University of Sharjah students to D3 to help with exposure.

‘I don’t feel like I’m breaking stereotypes in my field because there were many women before me who broke these stereotype for me and I’m very thankful for them,’ she admits. Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture, and designer Aljoud Lootah are some of the women who came before her that she admires. ‘They worked very hard to give these opportunities to myself and other women in the field.’

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