Nasrin Bakheet

Ceramics (MFA Student)

Thirty three years ago, my father left Saudi Arabia for the United States to earn his master degree, and here I am following his footsteps, hoping I can have the determination he once had to reach his goals. I was always interested in Art, so it wasn’t a surprise when I enrolled in the department of Islamic Art at King Abdul-Aziz University, Saudi Arabia, Jeddah.

During my first year, I was interested in ceramics, and this made me choose ceramics as a major to work for my bachelor’s degree final project. In the second year, I was chosen as a representative of the student in my department. As an active student, I was selected to be the leader of the Arts and Culture Committee at King Abdul-Aziz University. I constantly applied myself to participated my work, and volunteered into organizer a variety of exhibitions related to my college or my department.

Finally, after five years of hard work, I graduated with a first honors degree and was at the top of my class. The Student Activities Committee at my university chose one of my art pieces as a memorial gift to the Minister of Education in the graduation Ceremony. My college years provided me with a good background. As a result, after I graduated, I volunteered at the department of  Islamic Art as a ceramic lab technician for a year. I enjoyed the many opportunities this provides me to refresh my skills. I always aimed to be an academic, and my professors who taught me were always saying to me: “We are sure that you are going to be with us as an academic because you have to be.” These simple words, in addition to my sense of ambition, inspired me to work hard to achieve my goal.

During that time, I became a member in The Saudi Arabian Society of Culture and Arts in Jeddah. As a member, I shared a gallery with eight of the female ceramists, called Saudi Ceramists Gallery. Also, I participated in a gallery that belongs to House of Artist, Jeddah. Shortly afterwards, I was appointed as a teaching assistant in the Department of Islamic Art at King Abdul-Aziz University. My job taught me how to handle administrative work, and how to teach courses in ceramics hand building to undergraduate students. I tried to help students get over the challenges I faced as a student; by providing them with whatever useful information I had learned from my short experience. In that time, I lived many experiences but the most unique one was providing to students with special needs a class in ceramics.

Throughout my exposure to the field of ceramics in Saudi Arabia, I realized the shortage we have in this area of arts; in addition to the limited numbers of artists available in ceramics, I also realized that this is because of the rareness of this major in my country, and the lack of experience and knowledge about important steps in the ceramics process, such as, glaze calculation and firing. Because of my university’s need for variety in the arts, it didn’t take long before my request for a scholarship was approved by King Abdul-Aziz University. The head of my department was glad that a female staff member would be able to study abroad, since many of my female colleagues had to stay with their families and children in Saudi Arabia.

I chose to apply to Howard University, because I’ve always looked to it as an example of success in its specialization in the field of ceramic in the Master degree. The daily interaction with specific Ceramic classes will be more beneficial for me than studying general courses in Fine Arts, and I’ll know exactly how this amazing art is run, so I can obtain more experience and bring it to the Saudi art society.

Hopefully, I will be able to pursue the MFA so I can first develop myself and this area of teaching in my university.