Shaymaa Hesham was halfway through attaining her Bachelor’s in Architecture when she realized she wanted to follow her passion for art. Not knowing where to start, she contacted art galleries, only to be told that she needs to be more established. She decided to study art, and over the past three years she traveled, studied art and visited exhibitions and fairs. She completed certified courses from renowned institutes including the University of Arts in London. In 2017, she founded her own art platform where she showcases her art. Now finally, wanting to share her experience with artists who are struggling just the way she once did, she co-founded Art Empowers with her brother Ahmed Khaled. Art Empowers is a multi-concept nurturing platform for artists and art enthusiasts where they can learn, grow, network and engage in the art scene locally and globally. We speak with her about Art Empowers and the kind of work it does.
Art should not be postponed, and it is one of the things that can actually push us during these rough times
Your page on Instagram was launched in February, right before social distancing and quarantine put social activities on hold. Has that been a challenge?
It has been quite challenging, as we were just kickstarting Art Empowers with an exciting project hosting world class artist Dairo Vargas here in Cairo. However due to the situation with COVID19, the event was postponed until further notice. I realized that we need to adapt to a new way of living in order to move on with life. Art should not be postponed, and it is one of the things that can actually push us during these rough times. So, Art Empowers adopted a virtual strategy. Since then, we have been able to conduct several successful online workshops, courses and exhibitions.
Please tell us about the workshops and masterclasses you offer.
Art Empowers aims at hosting art events of different natures including workshops, masterclasses and exhibitions. Throughout our masterclasses and workshops, we try to provide our attendees with a well-rounded experience. Our latest live online masterclass by Dairo Vargas: Contemporary Painting, did not only provide instructional sessions, but also included a certificate as well as a virtual exhibition showcasing the work that was produced by the attendees during the session. Through our masterclasses, we provide cross-cultural experiences, as we aim to often collaborate with internationally renowned artists.
In order to make it social distancing-friendly, we provided the attendees with a kit fully packed with art supplies, delivered right to their doorstep
You held a virtual art therapy workshop recently. Tell us about that.
Last May, we held a workshop titled Art N’ Soul. We thought that introducing an art therapy workshop, open for everyone even beginners with no background in art, can allow art enthusiasts to express themselves and relieve their anxiety. In order to make it social distancing-friendly, we provided the attendees with a kit fully packed with art supplies, delivered right to their doorstep, so they do not have to worry about purchasing materials.
Do you believe there is still a need for more art-focused initiatives here in Egypt? What do Egyptian artists need to better themselves and their craft?
Actually, I am impressed with how the art scene here in Egypt is transforming. I believe that a fundamental aspect of being an artist is going out there, networking with other artists, observing all types of art and learning from other artists. This is part of what Art Empowers does in order to nurture emerging artists; through our events we provide various opportunities allowing artists and art enthusiasts to connect, engage and be recognized in the art scene.
Our ultimate goal is to make Art Empowers a globally recognized platform, connecting artists and art enthusiasts all over the world
What is the ultimate goal you have for Art Empowers? What do you aim to accomplish through it?
Our ultimate goal is to empower people’s talents and abilities by creating opportunities for artists to learn, grow, showcase their talent and have a chance to be recognized in the art scene locally and globally. Our ultimate goal is to make Art Empowers a globally recognized platform, connecting artists and art enthusiasts all over the world, allowing the networking of the various global art cultures.
Without art, world cultures wouldn’t leave legacies, societies wouldn’t be as civilized, and people would not have means of expression
You’ve chosen the statement Art Empowers as your platform’s name. Tell us more about your belief in how much art can empower people.
We strongly believe how art can influence people and advocate for initiatives and causes. Art has its own strong voice. Art, in all its forms, allows people to express themselves without any boundaries. Without art, world cultures wouldn’t leave legacies, societies wouldn’t be as civilized, and people would not have means of expression.
What’s next for Art Empowers?
We are currently expanding our platform globally, soon launching a new project in the UAE and Luxembourg through cross-cultural projects.