By Sadeem Al-Qorashi
Art, in many cases, is used as a tool to address sensitive topics and challenge societal issues and gender expectations. Accessibility to online platforms has put such artworks on display for the world to see. For this reason, many young artists choose to share their work on social media. One Saudi Egyptian artist used her online platform to make a difference.
Shahad Nazer is a 26-year-old graphic designer who showcases her collages and digital illustrations on Instagram, through which she sheds light on issues Arab women face. Nazer features Arab women through an empowering lens in works seen by thousands of viewers around the world, making her one of the most popular young Arab artists today. Little did she know that she would reach the level of success that she enjoys today when she dipped her toes into the art world.
In her early stages of becoming an artist, Nazer didn’t have a distinct artistic style or specific message she wanted to communicate through her art. ‘I didn’t have a clear idea yet of how I wanted my art to be portrayed or what topics I would tackle,’ says Nazer, who with time and reflection developed a style that she describes as ‘pop art, dreamy, creative, emotional and empowering’ and that reflects a variety of topics, ranging from calling for more female empowerment to challenging gender norms and expectations. She shares her art through her social media page on Instagram, where she addresses controversial and sensitive topics regarding the reality of being a woman in the Arab world. ‘As a woman, I think it’s important to stand by women and support them in any way possible. And, as an artist with a public platform, it feels like it’s my duty to be the voice of these women and empower them in any way I can,’ says the young artist.
Violence against women is one of the many themes Nazer explores artistically. As she explains, ‘One of the important issues is harassment against women or violence against women. It’s a very sensitive topic and isn’t being talked about enough, and I want to be one of these people that shed light on this issue as much as possible.’
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