NYU Abu Dhabi announces winners of The Christo andJeanne-Claude Award 2020

Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), has announced the winners of the eighth edition of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2020. The winning trio are architecture students from the American University of Sharjah (AUS): Sara Mohamed from Egypt, Laura AlDhahi from Kuwait, and Sahil Rattha Singh from India.

The winning submission, titled Haweia – an Arabic term meaning “identity” – will be a sculptural installation with a smooth exterior façade of folded aluminum, contrasted with a complex interior of reflective surfaces and fins. The installation will serve as a lens through which visitors can contemplate their inner selves and discover different configurations of their Haweia as they move around and inside the piece. Haweia will officially be unveiled at NYUAD in November 2020, prior to the installation being taken on tour to Abu Dhabi Art and Umm Al Emarat Park.

H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation said: “Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award in its eighth edition is evidence of the continued momentum cultural work has in spite of the difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Award reaffirms the value of culture as well as the aesthetic value of the arts.”

Her Excellency added: “The theme of the winning work ‘Haweia’ is emblematic of the diversity of its creators. Hailing from Egypt, Kuwait and India, they now live in the UAE, the home of this Award, and have come to form part of the fabric of its society. They are a perfect example of the power of art, culture and knowledge to create dialogue and openness toward others, and to foster hope.”

Her Excellency concluded: “Since the launch of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, in partnership with New York University Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, it continues to be a vital part of the UAE’s creative sector by stimulating creativity and giving young artists the opportunity to carry projects through to full realization with guidance from experts.”

The winners have been awarded USD 10,000 to complete their installation, working closely with museum professionals from The NYUAD Art Gallery alongside their mentor, Associate Professor at the American University of Sharjah’s Department of Architecture, Jason Carlow.

Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery Maya Allison said: “I have been genuinely impressed by the resourcefulness and commitment of these artists, which have not faded with the arrival of the pandemic. This difficult time has created a challenging environment for art production, and yet, even as they finish their college year remotely, they have still managed to launch the project plan and production. Our team has set up video-conference mentoring, reviewing materials, and plans. Thus, once again, The Christo Award process allows young artists to experience the real world of making a major project, including joining us in facing the great unknowns that can emerge at a time like this.”

Director of the Award Emily Doherty commented: “It was a delight to meet our newest Award winners. They presented to this year’s Award selection committee with commitment, enthusiasm, and artistic vision. Every year, the committee carefully deliberates on the final presentations to select a winner, but this year’s conversations were particularly long, detailed, and arduous. The standard of each application we receive is especially high, now that we are in our eighth year of the Award and that makes the decision making process all the harder. And of course, this makes the winning team even more deserving. We wish them well and are excited to work with them throughout the production process.”

Members of this year’s selection committee included ADMAF Founder H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano, Director of Abu Dhabi Art Dyala Nusseibeh, artist Azza Al Qubaisi, and guest juror Kevin Jones, founder of Juniper Mind.

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is open to UAE-based students and recent graduates and was established as a launch pad for visual artists across the Emirates, encouraging new artwork and offering winners an insight into professional life as an artist from commission to exhibition.

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