From Kuwait to RIT: Fine Artist Fatma Al-Azmi Stretches the Boundaries

MFA graduate student showcases her bold artwork in Bevier Gallery exhibit

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“Allure” by Fatma Al-Azmi; oil color on wood and aluminum

Fatma Al-Azmi says her husband and their three young children left their country behind so she could earn a Master in Fine Arts degree from Rochester Institute of Technology.

The 37-year-old Kuwaiti citizen from the Arabian Gulf came to the U.S. last August on a fellowship from Kuwait’s College of Basic Education. Several of her large installations are on display at RIT’s Bevier Gallery in the “Graduate Exhibition: Thesis 3,” which runs through May 9. An opening reception is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. April 27.

Al-Azmi joins three other MFA candidates in the show—Edmond S. Caputo, Francesca Lalanne Jeune and Maasa Nishimira—who are all fulfilling degree requirements for programs in RIT’s School of Art, School of Design and School for American Crafts.

In her homeland, Al-Azmi taught painting and drawing for five years at a high school and for another five at Kuwait University. Trained in the classic style and adhering “strict to the rules,” Al-Azmi says that has now changed after coming to the School of Art program at RIT, where she has been “taught to experiment.”

At first glance, Al-Azmi’s installations are stunningly bold, colorful and filled with a sense of movement. One of her pieces, Allure, is set against a purple-hued background with golden ribbon-like-scrolls that cascade to the floor with graceful abandon.

“My work is how to break the boundary of the painting and the elements that want to come out from the painting and surround it as a sculpture,” Al-Azmi explains. “I try to build the elements as real and not as an illusion—to free them and liberate them to capture their beauty.”

Bevier Gallery is handicapped-accessible and is in James E. Booth Hall. Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 7 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call the Bevier Gallery at 585-475-2646.