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JEDDAH: Art is often seen as a channel for the artist’s emotions, but young Saudi artists in various fields are now using their work to explore topics ranging from Saudi culture to mental health issues.

Jawahir Khaldi, 23, who specializes in digital art, told Arab News that she wanted to represent Saudi culture to the world.

“I want to create art that people can relate to and not just watch and enjoy. There should be a feeling of belonging when you look at any of my works.

Khaldi, who learned her skills on platforms such as Skillshare and YouTube, said: “Developing my style has been difficult. It informs others of your preferences. I used to read a lot of graphic novels, and that’s kind of my style now. So in other words, style is something that you collect over the years.

The self-taught artist said she draws because she wants to communicate her feelings and thoughts, and in order to do that, she has to capture the elements of her surroundings.

Khaldi said she would have a hard time expressing herself outside of a Saudi environment because that’s where she grew up.

“There is a song called ‘Hissa Sadsa (the sixth period)’ that I pulled from memory. I was a public school graduate, so we would skip the sixth period and hide on the stairs hanging out. It is my favorite memory and, therefore, my favorite piece.

“Hissa Sadsa (the sixth period)” by Jawahir Khaldi

Most of the feedback Khaldi receives are positive. “However, there are times when someone will say things like ‘why is this boy wearing jewelry? That’s not correct’, but I’m trying to get past those criticisms,” he said. she declared.

Shahad Matoq Al-Sonare uses his interest in psychology to create art that seeks to encourage empathy with people facing mental health issues.

She said her main goal is not to make people more understanding but to “make them feel the struggle.”

Al-Sonare has created artwork dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, Dyslexia, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder.

“My drawings are supposed to make people uncomfortable because that’s how patients feel,” she said.

The artist goes through a painstaking process to avoid misinterpretation, spending up to six months researching a single condition. She also spends long periods with a patient and tries to convey her feelings in her paintings and drawings.

Al-Sonare said she often felt pressure to avoid any mistakes conveying the experience of having a certain condition.

“When I realized how important this was, it boosted my motivation and prompted me to finish my paintings and put them on social media. “

His journey as an artist has also been far from smooth, with some viewers claiming his work would have a greater impact if drawn in a more “serious” art style.

“Some people have even gone so far as to say that my art is not really art, but there has been so much good feedback from people, and I think despite the negative reviews I have set my style in a way that people can recognize my art without looking at my signature, ”she said.

Al-Sonare urged people to be more open-minded towards people with mental health issues and “do their best to understand them.”


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