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Wonder makes us create

Arizona School of Art Professor and internationally-renowned artist Sama Alshaibi is featured in the University of Arizona’s branding campaign, “Wonder Makes Us,” both in video form as well as billboards and advertising in targeted recruiting areas.

In the video, Alshaibi is seen working with a student on campus and on location at the Arizona Heritage Waters of Willcox Playa in southeastern Arizona, where she re-enacted a previous multi-media project, Silsila.

It’s about “imagining the infinite possibility through self-reflection (the mirror to the otherworldly or imagined),” Alshaibi explains. “The desert being a space of self-reflection through embodied survival. The empty, hollowed suitcase speaks to migration/loss and future possibility.”

Alshaibi focuses her lens on the desert, water and the power of perseverance. Using photography, video and installation, her work pairs stunning visual explorations with themes of identity and imperiled environments.

“(The desert) was an early symbol in my work as a paradoxical landscape that reflected the experience of life that always appears to be changing and reforming but is actually just recycling and repeating the same history lessons.”

(Related News: Alshaibi will be featured in the “State of the Art 2020” at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and a new contemporary arts venue, The Momentary, in early 2020 in Bentonville, Arkansas. This is the second installment of this exhibition, in 2014, which drew 175,000 attendees, and is expected to become a traveling exhibit.)

Wonder Makes Us Create

“Wonder makes me get up every day and try harder. Wonder is the vitality of life. Wonder is in the present. It looks towards the future and it definitely recognizes the past.

“Ask me that two more times and you’ll get 10 more answers.”

“My name is Sama Alshaibi and wonder gave me a voice. It made me believe in that voice. That voice belonged.

“You can’t be from a place like Iraq or Palestine and have gone through the last several decades without having hope. Education to me is the most serious thing there is. It’s probably what saved my own life. It’s a very delicate balance between inspiring your students and having them hopeful and full of wonder. How do you experience for yourself? That you’re not just projecting what you already know about it.

“You know, why don’t we just start with honoring who we actually are. We’re a country that’s obsessed with perfection and I just don’t think that’s very interesting or even realistic. That’s the hardest thing, right? To just take that mask off and be plainly who you are.

“I’m entrusted to help these young people become their fullest selves.

“To me, being an artist is who I am. You don’t have to be anybody else, but what you are.

“Wonder gives me courage.”

Sama Alshaibi

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