Saad Abdul Radi (Abu Dhabi)
Aya Dhafer, an Emirati plastic artist and painter, graduated from the College of Fine Arts at Zayed University, Department of Visual Arts, and is a historian and photographer of Emirati heritage, almost ten years ago in the “Lest We Forget” initiative, chronicling , professionally visualizes and documents Emirati oral history.
A passion from childhood
About her artistic upbringing, Aya says: I grew up in an artistic family, so my mother, although she was not a plastic artist, but my vision as a child for her love of colors, embellishment and decoration, and coordinating everything about home and her tireless desire to share all this beauty instilled in me a talent that grew. She grew with me as I got older and I also learned from her knitting, cooking and art. Aya Zafer adds: My mother also taught me not to neglect anything and to take care of everything that exists between the walls of the house and turn it into unique modern forms every period.
She added: As for my father, I learned from him a love of photography and he was always eager to buy the latest cameras to document our family life and our travels at home and abroad. Who appears in them and I always asked about the places and who appears in the pictures.
About her academic studies, she said: Growing up, I joined the College of Fine Arts at Zayed University, Department of Visual Arts, and my passion turned from a talent to a specialized study that refined my talent. Then I combined my love for photography, documentation and art and I highlighted it in the “Lest We Forget” initiative where we were keen to document important aspects of the nation’s history and present our content in an artistic way in various books, exhibitions and participations such as our participation in the Washington Festival, and about her artistic inclinations she says: In the visual arts tend towards plastic art, especially my love for ceramic art, which I use my plastic talent in painting.
lest we forget
Regarding her role as coordinator of the “Lest We Forget” initiative, she says: The initiative lit its first torch by students at Zayed University and it has received all the support and my role in it is to archive and document local oral history by interviewing different segments of Emirati society with the aim of collecting, documenting and preserving personal photos. Taken from members of the community, which they still maintain, in an attempt to preserve the traditions and cultural identity inherited from the first Emirati generations and pass them on to new generations. She added: We document oral history, photographs, tools and even Emirati dresses and focus on highlighting the inspiring stories behind the things we document.
About Aya Dhafer’s participation in the Smithsonian Folk Arts Festival 2022 in the United States, as part of a delegation of 80 artists, she says: I was very happy to participate in this festival, which reflected the Emirati culture in all its details, and I was more than satisfied with the praise we received from visitors where the values and traditions of the UAE were appreciated with all its fine human components.
Celebrating history and heritage
Aya Zafer said: I collaborated with plastic artist Naz Shahrukh, who was my professor at university, and she taught me art when her circumstances prevented me from attending the festival, so I had the opportunity to be there, and I was responsible there for the world map, and the map was cut into more than 3,000 sheets, including countries, cities, and places. All over the world, members of the visiting public interacted with it by choosing a part to write a message, a memory, or draw a drawing.
And she continued: “This innovative artwork will be featured in the next edition of the Sikka Art and Design Festival, which will be held between the railways in Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood under the umbrella of Dubai Art Season.” The goal of this artwork is to connect people and the spirit of travel.
She adds: I also participated in the festival as a coordinator within the “Let us forget” initiative, where we were a group of four girls, who besides: Safia Al Maskari, Sarah Al Hosani and Esra Al Kamali. national identity, or by highlighting and celebrating the development and progress the country is witnessing in all areas.