For the first time, teenage students of art at the Dubai Community Theatre and Art Centre (Ductac) got a unique opportunity to display their work at a 3-day art exhibition entitled The Talented Young, at the Mall of the Emirates.
Around 40 paintings on diverse themes and in different mediums made by 30 students from ages ranging from 10-17 years earned rave reviews from art enthusiasts who thronged the show.
For Maria Peat, who has been teaching art at the Ductac art studio for more than seven years, this was a labour of love. “A main reason I decided to hold our first collective exhibition was to allow students to feel proud and look forward to showcasing their work.’’ I also wanted to tell students that their works are good enough to be displayed at an exhibition, she says.
“The look of sheer joy and pride as my students, parents, members of family and friends showed as they walked around the hall viewing the works was far beyond what words could explain. It reminded me of the saying a picture can speak a thousand words,” says Maria who has been teaching art for the last 20 years around the world and considers it her good fortune that she is able to inspire youngsters to express themselves through colours, shapes and forms.
The students too were overjoyed to see their works hanging proudly in an exhibition hall. “I have always loved colouring and drawing. My mother tells me that when I was a child, I used to colour the walls with crayons and draw all over myself with markers. Keen to encourage my talent, she enrolled me into a summer camp when I was three,” says 16-year-old Dhanistha Patel, a Year 12 student at Emirates International Schook, Meadows.
She joined Ductac art studio and has been training under Maria for the past six years. Without Maria I wouldn’t be the artist I am today. I wouldn’t be able to see the world and appreciate it the way I do now. Art is not just painting or drawing for me, it’s a form of expression. This exhibition was a great opportunity for me. It gave me the confidence to say ‘I’m an artist.”
Her schoolmate Deveena Sood, 13, a student of Maria since the age of 8, created an acrylic mixed media painting on African children, entitled ‘Shades of Innocence’ seconds that. “The Talented Young was a fantastic opportunity for me to show off my artwork and my passion for art. Everyone’s positive feedback on my paintings made me believe in my abilities and I hope to study Art as an IGCSE subject from next year.
“African children enchanted me on my visit to Zambia. This is what inspired me to paint ‘Shades of Innocence.’ The colours used reflect the beauty of Africa. It was challenging for me as it was the first time I had painted a face. It took me about three months to complete. I think this was the turning point for me as it helped push my boundaries of art and made me feel that I was capable of doing more elaborate paintings.
“I longed to do something I had never imagined I could do and this was when my aunt and uncle commissioned me to paint a canvas for their home. To justify this love and trust in my ability I had decided to create ‘The next level’. Quite like the title, it is a work that has taken my skills and talent to a new level. A nerve-wracking half a year of hard work and commitment was what it took to complete this painting,” says the creative teenager who is indebted to her teacher for having taught her so much. “In the last five years, Maria has inspired me to try different techniques and encouraged me to follow my heart to create amazing paintings. We share a level of comfort, support and understanding that makes learning fun. Maria came into my life at a young age when I was just doing art with her as a hobby but today art defines who I am.
A creative person who loves painting and music, Ola Faniran, a 12-year old from Dubai College, recreated nature in her acrylic on canvas painting entitled ‘An African Twilight”.
“I like art because you get to express yourself through a range of different drawings and paintings. In this painting I was trying to create twilight in an African plain. I am glad to have been able to put one of my paintings in an art exhibition. The painting took me nearly 12 hours to complete,” says Ola who has been ctaking art classes for the last two years.
Enthused by the response from the spectators and the art community Maria is determined to hold a similar exhibition in the near future that will help nurture budding talent and give them a good platform to interact with the art aficionados and the community around them.