As Dar al-Kalima heads into its 25th year, new studio space will be available for students in the growing art programs. This project, which began construction this week and aims to finish in late March, will convert old parking space to an open workshop for students in the Contemporary Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design, and the new B.A. in Design programs.
“Part of our mission at Dar al-Kalima is to provide space for creativity and freedom of expression,” said Fatem Mitwasi, head of the Graphic Design and Applied Arts program. “This is tackling that point. We want to provide adequate space and time for students to have that creativity and freedom.”
As the art programs have grown with the university, previous workshop space is now filling the demand for more classroom space. A proposal for new space was submitted a year ago, and plans were drawn beginning in December 2019. Mitwasi said as these programs grow, having a space solely dedicated to student work, practice, and experimentation is vital.
“Training adds a lot to talent,” she said. “It’s very important that we select talented students from the beginning, but it’s also important that they are being invested in. More space and more time means more opportunities for students to grow.”
According to Maha Abu Ghannam, construction project manager, this space will provide students with more freedom. An outdoor access to the space means that eventually students could have access to the space outside of normal school hours if necessary. The studio will also be handicap accessible through an indoor entrance.
“The students don’t need to learn theoretically,” Ghannam said. “They need to apply what they learn. This is an opportunity for them to express what they learn and to have a focus on arts.”
The workshop space is being built with local material from nearby quarries, and will utilize solar energy for electricity. The space will feature shared storage space for art and film students, as well as lockers where students can keep their individual materials and work.”
As Dar al-Kalima looks to the future, Mitwasi said having studio space like this opens up space for students to receive more training and to improve in and out of the classroom.
“Art is the way of expressing and getting out all the stress,” Ghannam said. “So when they are in a very safe place working on their art they feel free. And people here in this country need freedom. This isn’t complete freedom, but it’s something for them.”