RIYADH: Nada Al-Reemi stands in front of a clay block for more than seven hours, turning it into a work of art, carving out details of the eyes, nose and other facial features. She does not stop until it looks just right.
The Saudi sculptor began her career out of curiosity and a desire to try something new, discovering her talent and learning new skills along the way.
“When I finished my first ever sculpture, I had a feeling of happiness and achievement that exceeds the feelings I get when I draw,” Al-Reemi told Arab News.
“Then I made another sculpture representing my features and when I was done, I knew I could sculpt anything,” she added.
Since she was a little girl, Al-Reemi has enjoyed painting and playing dough, with her mother teaching her how to make objects with it.
“When I want to relive those childhood days, I start sculpting with clay,” Al-Reemi said, adding: “I used to play a lot with play dough and I can still remember my mother teaching me how to make a flower.”
Her family witnessed the remarkable change in her demeanor once she returned to art, and they encouraged her to continue down that path and develop a career. As a result, she enrolled in classes and workshops on working with clay as a medium.
Al-Reemi has displayed her unconventional artwork in more than seven galleries, but believes it is not yet a popular art form among locals. “Sculpture artists are rare in Saudi, and it deserves more recognition from the locals. Thankfully it is supported by the Kingdom but still, it is not popular yet among the locals,” she said.
Sculpture artists are rare in Saudi, and it deserves more recognition from the locals. Thankfully it is supported by the Kingdom but still, it is not popular yet among the locals.
Nada Al-Reemi, Saudi sculptor
According to Al-Reemi, art has the peculiar potential to allow a person to interact with themselves and overcome any psychological barriers brought on by overthinking. For this reason, she feels that art and mental health are related, and she often pours her feelings into her sculptures.
“I imagined and sculpted a character I dubbed the angry man. He has the traits of an angry guy, and he symbolizes how I felt at the time. I named him after a particularly angry experience.”
In 2020, Al-Reemi was certified as a painting and sculpture instructor by the Canadian American Board for Professional Training, and she has taught many classes in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Sculpting requires dedication and time as one session can last up to seven hours, with one sculpture taking between two and three sessions to complete. One of her favorite works is her King Salman sculpture.
“King Salman’s sculpture took me three sessions and that is more than 21 hours to finish, and I consider it one of my best works so far,” she said.
Al-Reemi wishes that more light was thrown on the sculpture scene. She hopes that one day her sculptures will be on exhibit in the Kingdom’s roundabouts and squares.
“I hope to create a sculpture someday that will be recognized as one of the modern arts of our century and placed in history books.”
She added: “The Kingdom cares deeply about every aspect of art as they launched Tuwaiq Sculpture in 2020 that gives workshops and classes for sculpture artists. It’s a great encouragement to open a portal of great expression through sculpting.”
The Tuwaiq Sculpture symposium promotes Riyadh as a cultural hub in Saudi Arabia and raises awareness abroad by bringing together local and foreign artists to produce public artworks in a live environment.