Article #6 in the ESL Student Life Stories Project, by Meaad from Saudi Arabia, age 23.
When the day came, we were worried and excited at the same time. We held each others’ hands tightly, because we had worked so hard as a team to make our first exhibition a successful one. And that night was the night when the world would see our creative efforts!
My name is Meaad, and I studied Art at King Abdulaziz University in my hometown of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Our teacher, Dr. Efet, taught us so much, and was always encouraging us to create our own exhibition. Because we were a really good team, we decided to do it.
We agreed that our exhibition would be named for the punctuation mark, “Comma” (in Arabic, “فاصلة ”), because the gallery was like a comma in the sentence of our lives. Though we would pause to show our paintings, we would continue, long after the comma, to create our art.
Once we decided on our exhibition’s name, the next steps were to find the exhibition hall, and to design the logo for our posters and merchandise. And of course: we had to make sure our art was perfect! We worked and shared everything together in the TWO YEARS that led up to our exhibition.
Then came the day of our opening.
The exhibition would be held in a big mall in my city called “Al-Serafi Mega Mall,” and we were told that the President of the University, herself, would be attending!
That morning, I woke up early. Actually, I couldn’t sleep very well because I was worried. Throughout the day I paced around nervously. My mother stroked my head and told me, “My daughter, don’t worry! Relax! You and your friends worked hard and everything will be okay.”
At four pm, I went to a beauty salon and cut my hair because I wanted to look special at my first art gallery. Though women wear headscarves in Saudi Arabia, the first day of our opening was women only, so we could show our hair. After I finished at the beauty salon, I went home and put on my elegant black dress and makeup, and my driver and I drove to the gallery.
When I arrived, I took off my headscarf and met my friends. They looked so beautiful! All of them were wearing formal dresses. The Exhibition hall was bright and very big, and our paintings hung proudly on the wall.
My friends and I tried our best to get ready. Suddenly, we heard someone holler, “They’re coming in! Be ready!” so we hurried to stand in our places. I stood in front of one of my paintings, preparing talk about it. I saw the group moving towards me and I was so nervous I couldn’t breathe. I whispered to myself, “They are coming! Relax, Meme, be relaxed!”
Then the President of the University and ten or more of our teachers stood in front of me. I took a long breath and then started to explain the meaning of one of my paintings.
I told my audience that the painting is about who I will be in the future. The yellow color, the same color as the sun, represents myself, because I want to be strong, shining, and bright, just like the sun. The white colors in the painting represent my goals in life: they started small, but they are growing up with time. I feel excited to achieve the next goal.
The small white lines represent the contrasts in my energy. Indeed, sometimes I get so excited, and other times I feel down. I am a human after all!
The other colors represent the people who have influenced and left a mark in my life.
I was looking at my teacher’s eyes the whole time I was talking, trying to concentrate on the ideas. When I finished explaning, I waited for the first impression from the group, especially the President. And… they liked my painting! I was so relieved and excited!
The group continued around to look at my friends’ paintings.
As the days went on, all my family and friends came to the opening of our Comma Art Exhibition. Our teachers told us that they liked our exhibition so much, and all of our friends liked it too. We were so happy and proud of our work.
That was my first exhibition, but not my last. Since then, I have participated in other exhibitions with my friends, and my future will hold many more. Now I am in the United States to get my Master’s Degree in Graphic Design, and I dream one day of having my own solo exhibition. Can you see me reaching up like the white swirl in my painting?
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